“Goodnight Ganesha” by Nadia Salomon, illustrated by Poonam Mistry


It’s a familiar nighttime ritual: the sun has set, the kids are in pajamas, the toys are still. It’s time to say goodnight. And while many are used to the rhythmic lines of “goodnight room, goodnight moon”, in Goodnight Ganesha, Nadia Salomon takes young readers through a different “goodnight game”.


Goodnight, window.
Goodnight, frame.
Goodnight, Ganesha – watching our game.


Two children play this game with their Nana. In every scene, the narrators observe something different: the evening breeze, a baby gecko, golden idols on the mantle. The children also undergo their nighttime routine with their grandfather and grandmother.


“You’re it!” huffs Tata – face red as a beet.
“It’s bedtime!” says Nana – voice raspy, but sweet.
So we hustle upstairs to brush our teeth.
Tata kisses our hands, tickles our feet.


            Goodnight, tag.
            Goodnight, teeth.
            Goodnight, kisses and tickles on feet.


Salomon, who was inspired to write the book based on her own childhood experiences, continues the book with a similar soft, rolling rhythm until the night sky is illuminated with stars and the children finally close their eyes.


Goodnight Ganesha, Nadia Salomon, Poonam Mistry (illus), (Philomel, August 2021)
Goodnight Ganesha, Nadia Salomon, Poonam Mistry (illus), (Philomel, August 2021)

In her author’s note, Salomon writes about the nostalgia of the nighttime routine as well as the universality of it, even as they may differ from country to country, from culture to culture. Goodnight Ganesha is an opportunity to explore traditions that may or may not be similar to the ones we personally experience.

But whether the text stimulates new discussions or conjures the familiar and the sentimental, readers—young and old alike—are certain to be mesmerized by the artwork by Poonam Mistry. With artwork that is impressively detailed, full of color, depth and texture, Mistry is an equal partner in this book.

Each illustration is vivid and rich whether it is a city skyline with a full moon and planes flying in the air or a scene from Nana’s story about a peacock stealing its blue plumes. Mistry’s final illustration is particularly beautiful. As Salomon wishes a final goodnight:


Goodnight, family.
Goodnight, love.
Goodnight, sweet Ganesha and stars up above.


Mistry draws the children and their grandparents resting peacefully with Ganesha looking down on them from a star-filled sky. Sweet dreams await.

Melanie Ho is the author of Journey to the West: He Hui, a Chinese Soprano in the World of Italian Opera.