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Elephant Prince: The Story of Ganesh



Last updated Monday, August 26, 2013

Author: Amy Novesky
Illustrator: Belgin K. Wedman
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 1886069166
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2013

Synopsis: Elephant-headed and big-bellied, mischievous and sweet, the god Ganesh is one of the most familiar faces in the world. But why does he have the head of an elephant? Set in the Himalayas in a time of gods and goddesses, Elephant Prince tells the story of a remarkable bond between a mother and her son, a remorseful god, a generous elephant and the boy who became Ganesh. Belgin K. Wedman's jewel-toned illustrations, reminiscent of classical Indian miniatures, complement this poetic story of one of the most beloved gods of all.

Note to readers:
•  The author's note at the end of the book explains who Ganesh is in the Hindu culture.
•  Note when reading that this book is narrated by a mother to her son, so there is dialogue a mother and son added into the actual story.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever seen an elephant?
•  Who is Ganesh on the cover? Who else is on the cover?
•  What are the elephant and the mouse doing on the cover?
•  Where do you think this story takes place? (have the kids find India on a map/globe)

Vocabulary:
•  Ganesh - the elephant-headed one
•  Hinduism - A diverse body of religion, philosophy, and cultural practice native to and predominant in India
•  goddess - a female god or deity
•  palace - The official residence of a royal personage.
•  temple - A building dedicated to religious ceremonies or worship.
•  Ganges - A river of northern India and Bangladesh. The river is sacred to Hindus.
•  feast - A large, elaborately prepared meal, usually for many persons and often accompanied by entertainment; a banquet.
•  garland - A wreath or festoon, especially one of plaited flowers or leaves, worn on the body or draped as a decoration.
•  parasol - A light, small umbrella carried as protection from the sun.
•  conch shell - large, brightly colored spiral shell used by various tropical marine gastropod mollusks
•  lotus - An aquatic plant having large leaves, fragrant, pinkish flowers.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Can anyone name the planets in the universe? (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, but not Pluto anymore)
•  What was the elephant prince's pet? Do you have any pets?
•  If you could have an animal head, what would it be?
•  What planet was Shani? What happened when Shani looked at the boy?
•  In the end of the story, what was Ganesh's job? A writer?

Craft ideas:
•  Make an animal mask using a paper plate. Draw an elephant face (or other animal) & color the plate. Make holes in each side & tie a piece of string on one side, then make sure it fits before tying the other end.
•  Make flowers using Kleenex-type tissues or colorful tissue paper & pipe cleaners.

Special activities:
•  Do a little Bollywood dance, like Ganesh and the mouse on the cover.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!