Ganesha Goes Green

­Barefoot Bks. Sept. 2023. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781646869978; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781646869985.
Gr 1-5–“Prema said, ‘But I can’t make a difference by myself.’ Mani smiled. ‘Maybe not...but together, we can.’” With this exchange, a young girl’s dream to make a cherished holiday tradition more environmentally friendly changes her village and empowers young people to take a leading role in that change. Prema is excited to join with her community to celebrate the upcoming Ganesha Chaturthi festival honoring the “elephant-headed Hindu god of new beginnings.” Part of the celebrations include placing statues of Ganesha in the river. Unfortunately, many of the statues used contain harmful chemicals and other materials that damage the river ecosystem. Prema’s family has been directly impacted by the pollution and she wants to find an alternative. With youthful optimism and a can-do spirit, Prema creates an eco-friendly Ganesha statue, and other young people join her in reimagining how the holiday can be celebrated in a way that protects the river. Digital illustrations capture the setting and the energy of a young activist and her desire to create change. Particularly thought-provoking is the environmental component that challenges readers to examine their own holiday traditions and to look for ways to mitigate the environmental impact of those. Back matter includes information about the festival and instructions on how to make an earth-friendly statue. An illustrator’s note indicates that Tamil Nadu, the location of the story, was captured in the fabric motifs and kolam art design.
VERDICT A must-have for holiday collections.

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