Padma Venkatraman's third novel was released to *STARRED* reviews in Kirkus, Booklist, VOYA, BCCB and SLJ, and
received an IndieBound citation, and rave reviews online and in newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, The Providence
Journal and the Denver Post !
To download ideas on using A TIME TO DANCE to implement CCSS (Common Core State Standards), click here.
To read reviews for A TIME TO DANCE in full, click here
To download a powerpoint providing the background for A TIME TO DANCE, click here.
To download the wonderful discussion guide created for A TIME TO DANCE by Penguin, click here.
Padma Venkatraman is offering a reduced author fee May-Dec 2014.
If you'd like her to speak (in person or virtually, through skype) or do a workshop at your library, school, university or
bookclub, please contact her
directly (preferable) via -
email: venkatraman dot padma at gmail - and you know what follows after gmail - yes, dot com, of course!
fb, twitter (hashtag p a d m a t v ), linked in, or
contact the Penguin Speakers Bureau.
Loosely based on inspiring stories of a few differently-abled (disabled) dancers, A TIME TO DANCE is a novel about spiritual
awakening, the power of art, love and resilience of the human spirit.
Thus, A TIME TO DANCE addresses these themes:
- differently-abled protagonists (disabled or handicapped were the terms used previously);
- diversity and multiculturalism (particularly the South Asian culture of India);
- dance, performing arts and the power of art (Indian classical dance, Bharatanatyam);
- spiritual growth (although Veda's spiritual philosophy is universal acceptance, her understanding is through the framework of
Hinduism and via dance as a means of deepening compassion and awakening to something larger than self-centeredness;
paradoxically, Veda achieves stillness through movement).
Quotes from the multiple starred and marvelous reviews of A TIME TO DANCE:
* Kirkus, STARRED review: Flowing free verse tells the story of a teenage dancer in Chennai, India, who loses a leg and re-learns how to dance.,.
Venkatraman weaves together several themes so elegantly that they become one: Veda’s bodily exertion, learning to dance with her prosthetic leg; her
process of changing her dance technique to be emotional and spiritual as well as physical; and all the rest of Veda’s life, including young love, grief,
insecurity and a dawning awareness of class issues...The fluid first-person verse uses figurative speech sparingly, so when it appears —“A bucket of gold
melting from the sky”—it packs a punch. Veda’s no disabled saint; awkwardness and jealousy receive spot-on portrayals as she works to incorporate
Hinduism and Buddhism, life experience and emotion into her dancing...A beautiful integration of art, religion, compassion and connection.
* Booklist, STARRED review: ...In Venkatraman’s delectably scented, sensual world, lyrically told through verse and through Veda, life is illuminated
as a beautiful celebration of doing what comes naturally, as best as one is able. Veda's awakening of her gift throughout her altered body and
revolutionary prosthesis provides a spiritually uplifting premise. As her dance instructor and love interest Govinda persuades Veda, “Our ancient
scriptures say the best dancers must have ten talents: balance, agility, steadiness, grace, intelligence, dedication, hard work, the ability to sing well, to
speak well, and to see deeply and expressively. You’ve only lost the first three talents. Only for a while.” The acclaimed author of Climbing the Stairs
(2008), Venkatraman deftly shapes readers’ comprehension of physical ability into a new arc of understanding. To even have a passing thought that Veda
is disabled, rather than differently-abled, would be utter madness...
* VOYA, STARRED review: After winning a local dance competition, Veda is in a wreck in which she loses her leg below the knee. Upon waking and
realizing her dancing dreams are probably over, Veda is given hope as an American doctor selects her as part of his low-cost prosthesis project and he
promises her that she will dance again...she meets a boy and blossoms into a young woman of both mental and physical strength, learning the art of
movement through her new body......The descriptions of contemporary India are beautiful and Venkatraman weaves images so divine that you can see the
statues of Shiva, hear the ankle bells in the bharatanatyam dance, and smell the acrid scent of burnt rubber from the accident. Told in verse, this story is
magnificently strong as Veda’s determination dances off the page and into the reader’s heart.
*SLJ, STARRED review: ...This exceptional novel, told entirely in verse, captures beautifully the emotions of a girl forced to deal with a number of
challenges and how she overcomes them on her way to becoming a confident young woman. It is sure to appeal to readers who are also trying to find their
place in the world.
*BCCB, STARRED review: ...Heart-achingly hopeful and beautifully written, this story will remain with readers long after the final line of verse.
* Indie Bound: ...this moving novel shows how completely "dance can let you enter another world, " as we discover the significance and deeper
meaning of the South Indian ancient dance form of Bharatanatyam. Veda who lives for dancing must rediscover its meaning in her life after a tragic
accident. Venkatraman tells a story of loss, redemption and discovery. She captures the spirit of love not just of dance but how each of her well drawn
characters care for each other.
* Denver Post: ...It is sure to go on my “Favorite Books” list. This book will definitely dance its way through your heart as it did mine.
* Chicago Tribune: ...powerful depiction of a teen girl struggling to recover from an accident...
* Providence Journal: ...dazzles and delights...
* Lit Up Reviews: ...I frequently read novels that leave me bubbly with enjoyment or make my mind race as I analyze every praise-worthy aspect, but it
is rarer for me to finish a book and feel struck with a sense of utter beauty...Going beyond gorgeous prose, the novels that make me feel this way tell tales
with rich settings and vivid emotions. A Time to Dance is one of these books, and every aspect shines, from its backdrop to its story to its writing.
read, I could practically see the city and taste the foreign food, and I emerged with a better understanding of contemporary India’s society.
breathtaking than the setting is this book’s subtle spiritual quality. Venkatraman does not try to convert readers to any religion, but she weaves spirituality
into Veda’s journey to recovery, making it an integral and fascinating part of the character. The protagonist’s loss of her limb takes away the thing that
matters most to her—competitive dance—but in doing so, it makes her ponder what is truly important. Watching Veda decide what her Hinduism means to
her and discover that dance can be spiritual rather than cutthroat can only be described as magical.
..Venkatraman accompanies her intricate dance of a
plot with rhythmic writing that flows as mellifluously as music, perfectly accompanying the story’s subject matter...