A Time to Dance

A Time to Dance9780399257100_p0_v2_s260x420A time to Dance

Padma Venkatraman, Author

Nancy Paulsen Books, Fiction, May 2014

Suitable for ages: 12-16

Themes: Dance, India, Amputee, Disabilities, Abilities

Book Jacket Synopsis: Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance–so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown up used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.

Why I like this book: This inspirational novel is lyrically written in verse. Padma Venkatraman weaves together a story about loss and resilience of a girl determined to dance once again her beloved Bharatanatyam. This is not a story about disability, but one of ability. It is about finding the deeper spiritual meaning of the dance over the applause. “For my invisible audience of the One I begin to dance./ Colors blur into whiteness and a lilting tune that is and is not of the world resonates within and without me./ My body feels whole./In the beat of my heart I hear again the eternal rhythm of Shiva’s feet.”

Reading Venkatraman’s novel is an experience of India in all its beauty, cultural traditions, senses and sounds. If you listen closely you can hear the faint echo of a dancing rhythm.  Thaiya thai. Thaiya thai.  I highly recommend this beautiful novel for tweens and teens who have faced challenges in their lives. This book is a treasure on my bookshelf.

Padma Venkatraman is an oceanographer by training and a writer by choice. She is the author of Climbing the Stairs and Island’s End, both multi-award winners.  Padma was born in India, but is now an American citizen. Visit Padma at her website. It has discussion questions and teaching resources.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

22 thoughts on “A Time to Dance

  1. This one has been on my radar, but I didn’t know what it was about. Now I can’t wait to read it! I am always looking for books that will help my kids explore the Indian side of their heritage. This will be great for my 12 year old. Another (picture book) we love is HOT HOT ROTI FOR DADAJI – have you seen that one? Darling.

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    • It’s a beautiful story that is easy to read, since it is in verse. My son is from India, so I read everything I can that helps me understand his culture. He is an adult now. Padma has written two other books, both about her culture. She is an author to watch. Thanks for the recommendation — no I haven’t read Hot Hot Rote for Dadaji.

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  2. I love this line: “This is not a story about disability, but one of ability.” I really don’t like to read stories written in verse, but this story sounds beautiful. Maybe I’ll chance it. 😉

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    • Michelle, if you are going to read a novel in verse, this is the one to read. I can’t imagine her story written in prose. Padma is such a gifted author and her imagery is beautiful, her character Veda’s voice is strong and determined even when she is facing so many challenges. And the verse compliments the dance theme.

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    • I was hoping you’d stop by. I knew you’d love this book and would want to read it. I couldn’t put it down. Such an uplifting story written so beautifully in free verse. So much imagery.

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