Sunday, July 31, 2016

Books are more than mirrors or windows

Diverse books, we often hear, are mirrors in which readers may see themselves reflected; or windows through which readers may glimpse differences.
I understand and respect these metaphors. But to me, books are neither mirrors nor windows.  They are the keys to much, much more. To something broader and deeper than just recognizing oneself or peeking at someone else.
They are much more, as I have repeatedly said in my talks for some years now, and most recently mentioned at ALA and then at Oakland University.
They are a magical means of transport, transcendence and transformation.
When you read a wonderful book, you never see yourself. You may see someone similar, perhaps, someone who resembles you a little, outwardly or inwardly, but that's just superficial.
Your soul shouldn't be standing still when you read - your soul should move.
When you read a marvelous book, you don't just peer through a window.  Words touch you, grip you, and don't let go of you.
Your senses - all your senses are captive. Your body is consumed. You are on a glorious voyage, a voyage of the imagination, a voyage of thought, a voyage of love.
You enter the hearts and minds of characters. You live another life for a while. You see through their eyes. You feel how they they feel. You breathe with them and they breathe through you.
You don't just inhabit the protagonist's world, you inhabit the protagonist's soul.
And when you return from the book to your own world, your reality will have changed. You shall be changed.
You will be more compassionate, more empathetic.
That's why I write.
Not to teach, because books aren't teaching tools. But they are learning tools, nonetheless.
Through a book, you learn. Not learning in the sense of gaining knowledge, but the truest, deepest way to learn, which is to understand difference, to be - not just with but actually be -  someone else for a time, and through this to grow.
A good book shows you what love is. It is a tool fashioned by the most beautiful human impulse - compassion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

On the Nerdy Website!

Delighted and so deeply honored to be featured by the Nerdy Book Club:

Monday, May 02, 2016

Hearing Voices

At the NESCBWI writing conference, I did a whopping 3 workshops, all on one day. Some highlights below.

I rather intensely dislike all things electronic, so I admit I don't blog, tweet, fb, link in, etc. etc. as much as I ought, but something I love intensely is to be able to help other writers out, in real life, in the flesh, in person. And I feel so happy and grateful every time I get the chance to do this, as I did, this weekend, at NE SCBWI. 

Every time I see someone out there whose eyes are so hopeful, someone I am able to reach out to, some aspiring writer whom I can assist in some small way, it makes me feel more alive, more grounded, and more inspired. I felt like I was able to give a lot more than my usual number of short pep talks to as yet unpublished writers during the past three days, and this alone, if nothing else, made me happier than I can express.

Below are a few points from the workshop I did on "voice" - along with a list of books I recommended. There are so many marvelous examples of voice, though, so this is just an eclectic list of what popped into my mind as I was planning my talk. 

Voice, to me, is flavor. It's not about accurately reproducing the way someone speaks (I know no one who speaks with the fluidity of a written voice); it's about effectively conveying insights into characters, about capturing time and place in a manner that's unique. Each writer, each character has a voice that is - or should - reflect their individuality. Listen all you can - but learn, don't try to repeat what you've heard precisely on the page. To me, it's a little like making tea. Your first draft probably contains all the elements of voice, but just as you need to toss out the teabag once the flavor's steeped into the water, you need to cut away words/phrases/sentences/paragraphs that don't fit the voice you've chosen for your story. Voice is choice. Voice influences, but doesn't dictate subject matter. Literary novels are often written in lyrical voices (whether they're lush and rich or lean and spare) and a literary voice pairs well with quieter novels. That doesn't mean, of course, a literary novel cannot have a lot of action. I remember how surprised - and thrilled - I was when one of the starred reviews of ISLAND'S END referred to its "heart-stopping action" !

Novels I referred to during my talk, including my own:
Realistic/Contemporary: Speak, What Jamie Saw, Maniac McGee, A Time to Dance, all Sarah Pennypacker's Clementine books, Paula Danzider's Amber Brown books
Fairytale/Fablelike Voice: The Underneath, Island's End, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, The Wind in the Willows, The House at Pooh Corner
Fantasies rich in detail: Inkheart, Tuck Everlasting, Redwall, Eragon, The Lord of the Rings, The Narnia Series
Literary Sci-fi: The House of the Scorpion, The Giver, Flowers for Algernon
Historical Fiction: Climbing the Stairs, Chains, Elijah of Buxton, Daughter of Venice Catherine, Called Birdy, The Gift of Sarah Baker, Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry
Nonfiction: Most Dangerous, Symphony for the city of the dead, Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam and the Science of Ocean Motion, Feathers: Not Just for Flying

Verse novels set outside the United States that Holly Thompson and I referred to in our session: 
Helen Frost's The Braid, Meg Wivott's Paper Hearts, Mariko Nagai's Dust of Eden, Maria Testa's Something about America, Joyce Lee Wong's Seeing Emily, Steve Herrick's By the River, Andrea Davis Pinkney's The Red Pencil, Terry Farish's The Good Braider, Stephanie Hemphill's Sisters of Glass, Dana Walrath's Like Water on Stone, Margarita Engle's The Poet Slave of Cuba and Enchanted Air, Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu's Somewhere Among, Sarah Crossan's The Weight of Water, Thanha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again, Leza Lowitz's Up from the Sea, Melanie Crowder's Audacity, Skila Brown's Caminar, Jennifer Roy's Yellow Star, Marilyn Hilton's Full Cicada Moon, Juan Felipe Herrera's Downtown Boy, Ching Yeung Russel's Tofu Quilt, Holly Thompson's Falling Into the Dragon's Mouth, Orchards, and the Language Inside, and of course, my A TIME TO DANCE.

Novels featuring characters with disabilities that Amitha Knight, Carrie Banks and I mentioned during our session: A Time to Dance, of course, and Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman, Tending to Grace by Kimberley Newton Fusco, Me and Rupert Goody by Barbara O'Connor, The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, El Deafo by Cece Bell, The Memory of Light by Francisco Stork, Rogue by Lynn Miller Lachmann, When Reason Breaks by Cindy Rodriguez, on the Edge of Gone by Corrine Duyvis. A nonfiction title that we mentioned was  Including the Families of Children with Special Needs by Carrie Banks. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tolerance versus Acceptance

At a recent panel discussion with wonderful authors Dana Levy and Susan Ross, I spoke about tolerance versus acceptance. I've started writing an essay on this topic, but here are some quick thoughts:

We often expound on the virtues of tolerance, but really, don't we want to do more than merely "tolerate" those whom we deem to be different from us in some way or another? To tolerate someone implies that we're irritated by them or that we dislike their views - but despite this deep-rooted sense that they aren't quite right, we do our best to co-exist with them. It's a live and let-live policy.

To accept someone is to embrace them - or at least to warmly shake hands with them - although we mayn't agree with them. Acceptance implies equality. I think that if we're truly to promote diverse books, we need to accept one another, taking a step or two beyond mere tolerance.

At a workshop later, I also mentioned diverse books that I've read and enjoyed. In some cases, I can't judge authenticity; all I can say is that I liked them. I also mentioned some websites that I think serve as extremely useful resources: Cynthia Leitich Smith's Blog; Deb Reese's Blog; The Primary Source Website, The Global Library; Disability in Kid's Lit, and of course, the We Need Diverse Books website. The books I mentioned were:

Novels on the Disability Experience: 

The Sound of All Things
Out of My Mind
The Black Book of Colors
Challenger Deep
The War That Saved My Life
Me and Rupert Goody
Tending to Grace
On the Edge of Reason
El Deafo - a marvelous
 graphic novel 

Authors writing from outside a culture:
The Language Inside
A Path of Stars
The Good Braider
22 cents: The Story of Mohammed Younis
The Red Pencil
Many Stones

Authors writing about their cultures and diversity within a culture:
First Nations - Joseph Bruchac, Deb Reese, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Shonto Begay
Cuban-American - Margarita Engle, Alma Ada Flor, Richard Blanco
African-American Authors whose work is remarkable but for some reason don't seem to be read as widely and as often as I'd expect: Brenda Woods, Nikki Grimes, Marilyn Nelson (despite a Newberry and a National Book Award, her amazing work for children and young adults seems relatively unknown)

Intersectionality: When Reason Breaks, God Loves Hair, The Memory of Light

Global Narratives: Tofu Quilt, Little Green, Yellow Star, Like Water on Stone, Dust of Eden

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Words, white space and spirituality - the landscape of music, mathematics and language

A Poem
is not words
but spaces soaring
inwards in between.
is numbers heard
equations sung aloud
word patterns
soft or bright
the topography of sound
A poem is as numbers are
determined by mutual distance
stop-start-pause rhythms
of speech, sound, hearts.
A poem is faith
in blank spaces
where God unbounded
by religion abides.
A poem is trust
in emptiness growing
revealing infinity
within the confines
of a line segment.

 Thanks so much to Steven Bickmore, Kelly Bully, Evelyn Spratt for inviting me and Dana Walrath to do the keynote; to my brilliant editor Nancy Paulsen and the team at Penguin, Alexis, Venessa, Carmela, Talia, and Julie and everyone else for their support.  I found this 2-3 year old poem draft and thought it captured some of what I said about wordlessness in verse being especially suitable for spirituality not confined to any particular religion yesterday morning at NCTE. Much of this I'd said before as well, in many other places where I've spoken ever since I started writing a time to dance. Yesterday, I also mentioned the magical duality of difference and universality that a good book encompasses, and of my realization several years ago of the connection between words and numbers: Mathematics, everyone acknowledges is music. And language, at its best, sings. I will say, in the poem above, if you are an atheist, do feel free to spell God with two O's - God to me is the power of Goodness as much as it is anything else. How wonderful to be invited to speak at NCTE about A TIME TO DANCE!

Monday, August 03, 2015

A TIME TO DANCE Author Events

ISBN # 978-0-399-25710-0

Released to 5 stars

*Kirkus, Starred review *Booklist, Starred review *VOYA, Starred review *BCCB, Starred review *SLJ, Starred review 

Booklist Top 10 art bk of the year; Forever Literary Top 10 Character Driven Books; Kirkus Best Books for Teens; Booklist Editor's Choice Best Books of 2014; New York Public Library Top 25; IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities; 25 Books by Women to Diversify your Shelves; Indiebound Summer selection...
A TIME TO DANCE received marvelous reviews in newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, the Denver Post and the Providence Journal, plus rave reviews online. Excerpts from reviews are provided in another post on this blog. Below, I list several author events (outside of school visits) that
 I'm pleased to be doing, to most of which everyone is welcome.Some, however, are closed to the public, so please check.

In 2016:

- Sat, Apr 2, library, Derry, NH
- Tues, Apr 5, library, Camden, ME
- Thurs, Apr 7, RRU, Augusta ME
- Sat, Apr 9, Cape Elizabeth Author Fest, ME
- Fri-Sun, Apr 29-May1, NESCBWI, Springfield, MA

-Mon-Wed, May 23-25, Highlights Foundation Workshop, PA

- Sat, 4 June, Verse Novel Workshop, The Writer's Loft, MA
- Thurs-Fri, June 23-24 Ocean State Summer Writing Conference, RI
- Sat, June 25, ALA conference, FL

- Sun, Jul 10, ILA, Boston
- Tues, Jul 12, library, Avon, CT

- Fri-Sun 14-16 Oct, James River Festival, VA 

In 2015:
- Wed 4 Feb, Pratt Institute, NY (private lecture for class, not open to the public)
- Thurs 12- Thurs 19 Mar, Hong Kong Youth Literary Festival, Hong Kong, China
- Fri/Sat 19/20 Mar, Salve Regina University, March into Reading, Newport, RI
- Fri/Sat/Sun 24-26 Apr, NESCBWI, Springfield, MA
- Thurs 14 May 3:30-7:30 Diversity Now, Boston Public Library, Copely Square, Boston, MA
- Thurs 18 - Sat 20 June OSSWC, Kingston, URI
- Wed 8 July, KQL International, CCSU, CT
- Sat 25 July, Writing Workshop, Tomaquaq museum, Exeter, RI
- Sat 19 Sept, 1:00 p.m., Diversity Discussion, Eric Carle Museum, MA
- Fri-Sun 16-18 Oct, USBBY, IBBY, New York, NY
- Fri 31 Oct, NEATE, Mansfield, MA
- Sat 22 Nov, NCTE, Minneapolis, MN

In 2014:

April in the Caribbean
- Keynote address at Beach Pen Literary Festival

May in RI, CT
- 1:00 p.m. Saturday 10 May, Tomaquag Museum, Exeter, RI
- 4:00 p.m. Saturday 17 May, Books on the Square, Providence, RI
- 3:00-5:00 Sunday 18 May, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

June in RI, NY, DC, MD
- 1:30-3:30 Tuesday 3 June, Coastal Institute Bookstore, GSO, Narragansett, RI 
- 11:00-4:00 Saturday 7 June, Curiosity and Mischief, Narragansett Pier, RI
- 1:00-3:00 p.m. Saturday 14, June Wakefield Books, Wakefield Mall, RI
- 7:00 p.m. Monday 16, June Willett Free Library, Saunderstown, RI
- 19th-21st June, Ocean State Summer Writing Conference, URI, Kingston, RI* 
- 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, 24 June Books of Wonder, New York, NY
- 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, 25 June Politics and Prose, Washington DC
- 2:30-4:30 p.m., Saturday 28 June, Govan's Branch, Enoch Pratt Library, Baltimore, MD

July in MA
- 10:00-12:00, Saturday 19 June, Wellesley Booksmith, Wellesley, MA
- 6:00 p.m., Monday 21 July, Robbins Public Library, Arlington, MA

July in RI
- 9:00 - 12:30, Wednesday 23 July, Tomaquag museum, Exeter, RI
- 2:30-5:30, Sunday 27 July, Symposium Books, East Greenwich, RI

August in CA
- 7:00 p.m. Friday 15 August, Books Inc., Mountain View, CA
- 2:00 - 4:30, Saturday 16 August, Saratoga Public Library, CA

Sept in RI, MD, VA
- 26-28 Baltimore Book Festival, Baltimore, MD
- 6:00 p.m., Sunday 14 September, Authors on Main, Wakefield, RI
- 18 September, Bookworm Central, Manassas, VA

October in RI, CT, MA
- Sunday 5 October, Island Books, Middletown, RI
- 4:30 p.m., Tuesday 7 October, RWU, Bristol, RI
- Fri-Sat 17-18 October, Lincoln School, Providence, RI
- Sun-Mon 19-20 October, NELA, Boxborough, MA

November in RI, MA
- 2:00 p.m., Saturday 8 November, Davisville Free Library, Davisville, RI
- Harvard University  (invited class lecture, not open to the public)
- Fri-Sun 21-23 November, NCSS, Boston, MA

December in NY
- 6:00 p.m., Wed 10 December, New York Public Library, NY (words without borders)

*I'm doing a workshop on writing YA novels at URI's Ocean State Summer Writing conference, so do register if you'd like to do a writing workshop with me :

Saturday, August 01, 2015

A TIME TO DANCE released to STARRED reviews in 5 journals - and more!


Thrilled to announce the release of my third novel, A TIME TO DANCE (Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House) to starred reviews in 5 journals: Kirkus, Booklist, VOYA , BCCB and SLJ, as well as an IndieBound citation and marvelous reviews online and in major newspapers!

ISBN #:  978-0-399-25710-0

National Book Award Winner, Gloria WhelanWith words that move with grace and elegance … In poetic imagery as graceful as Veda’s dancing, Venkatraman has drawn a vivid picture of contemporary India, and given a gift of faith and hope to all who, like Veda, find their dream slipping away.

* Kirkus, STARRED ReviewFlowing 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... The fluid first-person verse uses figurative speech sparingly, so when it appears … it packs a punch. Veda’s no disabled saint; awkwardness and jealousy receive spot-on portrayals…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. …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: "...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..."

Horn Book: "Brief lines, powerful images, and motifs of sound communicate Veda's difficult struggle"

Denver Post: “...'A Time to Dance' by Padma Venkatraman is a great read ... 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 propels Padma Venkatraman's "A Time to Dance," a novel-in-verse… Venkatraman poignantly illustrates the break between Veda's old life and new…”

LitUp Reviews:  Every book I read leaves me with some kind of impression… 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... 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…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…The beat created by the broken lines makes the words feel like effortless footwork…readers who like multicultural stories, lyrical verse, or tales about people gaining strength from tragedies have to read this book.

Newsday: "I loved this book. It transported me into Veda's life. Being a dancer myself, I was able to feel her struggle...This book is like a love story, tragedy and spiritual read all at once." reviewed A TIME TO DANCE twice. Sam Coale (Wheaton Professor) calls it a: "beautifully written novel novel...heartbreaking tale...Venkatraman has created a rich, exotic and fully human world that dazzles and delights. Her way with prose reflects Veda’s with dancing: “Nothing else fills me with as much elation as chasing down soaring music.” This novel accomplishes exactly that." 
Another review, by Kathleen Odean (also in the ProJo) says: "beautifully written...lyrical and compelling"

Summer 2014 IndieNext listThis beautiful book, written in verse, follows the life of a young girl who loves to dance. The struggles caused by her traditional Indian family's disapproval of her passion are compounded when disaster strikes and she loses a leg in a car accident. For anyone looking to be uplifted and inspired, this stunningly lyrical novel comes highly recommended!”
—Danica Ram, Townie Books, Crested Butte, CO This site has a video showing Bharatanatyam, in addition to a lovely review: "Told entirely in verse, this exploration of faith, resilience, and traditional Indian dance will surely inspire readers to reach for their dreams, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles...Venkatraman does a phenomenal job of describing the different poses and stances that Veda must learn to remaster after her accident...A Time to Dance shouldn't be missed. "

Quercus, Winding Oak: It's a book about many things: faith, friendship, family, young love, strength of conviction, feelings that rollercoaster realistically from despair to leaping joy. The sensory details pulled me deeply into the story as only a master storyteller can. A Time to Dance is set in India and Shiva is at the center of Veda’s faith. By accompanying Veda on her journey, we can’t help but look at our own beliefs, our strengths, the areas in which we can make higher leaps, learning to bring the audience in our lives to tears because we have expressed understanding and compassion.
As with all of Ms. Venkatraman’s books, I closed the covers reluctantly, knowing that A Time to Dance is a book that has become a part of me, one I will always remember.

In Bed with Books Veda is a compelling heroine who undergoes a complicated personal journey, and Venkatraman's writing is gorgeous. "the spare writing adds so many layers of complexity and meaning with so few words. Throughout this verse novel, the voice is perfectly honest: the story never shies away from the most challenging or humiliating moments of Veda’s recovery, but it shows Veda’s darkest moments without losing its optimistic core. Veda’s relationships with her family and friends are authentically complicated, with every teenage mishap and embarrassment presented in its own unique context. The detail-rich setting creates a precise and interesting window into life in modern India without being heavy-handed. Most significantly, Veda’s tenacity, determination and growing spirituality are inspiring, as are the stories of other dancing amputees mentioned in the novel.But the novel isn’t just about being a teenage, dancing, Indian amputee. It’s about being a daughter and a granddaughter, a student and a teacher, a friend and (perhaps!) a girlfriend; and it’s about finding inner stillness through outward motion. At its heart, A TIME TO DANCE explores what it means to lose what you love most, and regain it again when you and it have changed for the better." wrote an inspiring and moving piece "I am well aware that if I had been born in a different time or place my life would not be what it is...When I read stories like A Time to Dance, I am reminded of how powerful access to prosthetics can be, how it can truly change people’s lives." recommends it as a book about embracing disabilities and differences: "...a story of India, of smells and scents, of dance and determination...(Veda's) struggle takes her to a new place within herself with an awakening about who she is and the future ahead." "a powerful and inspiring story ... Using riveting verse, Venkatraman shows how dance can help lost souls find healing and re-connect with their passion for life...Even if you have never taken a dance class before, thanks to Venkatraman's poetic writing, you too will walk away from this novel with a new appreciation for spirituality, culture and the triumph of the human spirit." gave it 5 hearts: "Told entirely in verse, this exploration of faith, resilience, and traditional Indian dance will surely inspire readers to reach for their dreams, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles...easily one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. I love the verse/writing and the sheer beauty of the setting and characters. It's simply stunning....From the beginning, the writing in this is so beautiful...I really like free verse novels, and this one blew me out of the water. A Time to Dance manages to convey so much depth, detail, and richness into small passages that left me in awe....Veda's character is incredible. Her emotions are so raw and real, and her bravery and strength inspiring. I love the growth she has in finding her peace with her new situation mixed with wonderful details about her culture and how religion often ties into their dance. The chemistry between her and Govinda is so intensely smoldering and their primary physical contact is just in dance (as opposed to intense make out sessions and such)...Overall, I can't recommend this one enough. It's beautiful, insightful, and it's a brilliant read.

Edelweiss Team (Indiebound): Highly recommended…A new novel from Padma Venkatraman always moves to the top of the reading list… this moving novel shows how completely "dance can let you enter another world,” … captures the spirit of love not just of dance but how each of her well drawn characters care for each other.
A TIME TO DANCE, * Booklist's Review of the Day, STARRED!
Online, a gorgeous re-enactment of the cover:

Wonderful citation as a Top 10 character driven book:

A Booklist Top 10 art book for youth:

Rabbit Readers Book Club: Stunning novel about spiritual awakening…

Children's Books Heal: This is not a story about disability, but one of ability...This book is a treasure on my bookshelf.

First Book called it a "seriously stellar book" and an "awesome title", listing it in an email blurb along with Kwame Alexander's The Crossover, John Green's Fault in Our Stars, Gary Soto's Novio and Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park.

One of the most moving reviews of A TIME TO DANCE, by a blogger who is disabled, like Veda, and whose words about her own life are wonderfully inspiring, although she denies it. "I am well aware that if I had been born in a different time or place my life would not be what it is...When I read stories like A Time to Dance, I am reminded of how powerful access to prosthetics can be, how it can truly change people’s lives."…/the-difference-a-pro…/

An unexpected b'day gift - A TIME TO DANCE is the Calgary Public Library's pick of the month (Nov 2014): "...Veda perseveres and won't let her disability rob her of her passion to inspiring story ... told lyrically through verse, which beautifully depicts her life as well as what it is like for a middle class family in India. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I found myself rooting for Veda and her passion to dance from the beginning right to the end. I related to every emotion that Veda felt throughout the entire novel..." : "Padma Venkatraman has woven 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... I highly recommend this beautiful novel... This book is a treasure..." Nafia Azad: "A Time to Dance is a wonderful reiteration of the beautifully diverse world we live in. It gives us a glimpse of a culture which may be foreign to us and opens for us lives rich with poetry, spirituality and determination. Everyone could benefit from any of these things. I strongly recommend this for your collection/library/pleasure. Venkatraman’s “A Time to Dance”... carries your heart to emotional highs and lows ...a captivating story of hope and renewal. I was eager to turn the pages, entranced by the characters and plot, but I also look forward to revisiting the book to savor each poem for its simplicity, beauty and poignancy...Venkatraman’s novel is a wonderful study in how to use ...well-chosen words ...that lift and carry the reader through their very own emotional arcs, while at the same time pulling the reader poem-by-poem through a greater story arc of character, plot and emotion.  The hum of Padma Venkatraman's verse started on page one...and I felt each word deeply...

So honored it's a staff pick by POLITICS AND PROSE: " Padma Venkatraman vividly portrays contemporary India with its traditions, religious diversity, and emphasis on family. Her use of free verse adds rich texture to the novel as it evokes the musical rhythm of the ancient South Indian dance form. - Mary Alice Garber"