Monday, October 30, 2006

The Albertosaurus Mystery: Philip Currie's Hunt in the Badlands

My latest work, a picture book, has just been released by Bearport Publishing ( It was fun to write a nonfiction book that reads like fiction. I also had to come up with the picture specs, which was a very interesting experience.


If you think being chased by a single carnivorous dinosaur would be frightening, imagine being cornered by a pack! Is it possible that Tyrannosaurus its predatory cousins hunted together in groups?

Philip Currie, a paleontologist, was intrigued when he read about a dinosaur graveyard that was discovered many years ago by the fossil hunter Barnum Brown. Hoping it would strengthen his ideas on how dinosaurs hunted, he began to follow Brown's footsteps. Would he find the mysterious site that was hidden somewhere in the Candian Badlands?

The book follows Currie's exciting search, and provides an insight into the way scientists ask and try to answer questions about the terrifying giants that roamed our globe millions of years ago.


The ATOS readability score for the book is in the range for High-Low books.
Bearport Publishing Incorporated is a member of the Children's Book Council:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Article that appeared in a local newspaper in India in 2005

Padma Venkatraman, the author of more than twenty books for children and adults, was born in Chennai. She spent most of her childhood in Valmiki Nagar, and did most of her schooling at The School K.F.I. in Adayar, and studied for two years at St. Michael’s Academy.

After completing her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at St. Joseph’s college, Bangalore, she moved to the United States to pursue graduate study in oceanography. For over a decade, she conducted experiments in physical chemistry, wrote regular columns for leading Indian publications, and placed her work in European and American magazines such as Cricket, Highlights, Odyssey, and Ask. Two sets of animal books for young children were also published during this period.

She started writing her first historical fiction, The Forbidden Temple, as a post-doctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University’s environmental engineering school. When this book (published by Tulika) went into second edition, she decided to cut back on science and concentrate on writing. She has recently completed a novel entitled Climbing the Stairs which is based largely on the experience of her mother, who grew up during the time of the Freedom Struggle. A biography on the life of Caroline Herschel, an astronomer who lived in the 1700’s has been accepted for publication by Morgan Reynolds, an imprint of John Wiley and Son.

Padma now works part-time as a scientist at the University of Rhode Island, where her husband is a professor. She enjoys music, yoga, hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing (which she is very bad at). She also participates in science education and outreach efforts, writes regular magazine columns including a weekly column for The Hindu, and does freelance work, in addition to working on her novels. In the past, she has worked as a staff writer for two Indian children’s magazines, and as the headmistress of a school in England.

Padma uses the name “T.V. Padma” when she writes for younger audiences, and her full name when she writes for adults. Her books are available at bookstores in Chennai, through the website:
and are also listed at:

Saturday, June 24, 2006

URI Bay Campus Press Release, 2005

URI Bay Campus bookstore to host benefit booksigning for tsunami victims
Narragansett, RI -- January 10, 2005-- Padma T. Venkatraman will be the featured author at a benefit booksigning to be held on Thursday, January 20, from 11 am to 1 pm at the Coastal Institute Bookstore on the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett. The proceeds of this event will be donated to the victims of the December 26 tsunami, which hit the city where she grew up. Donations will go to recognized charities through the auspices of the Coastal Institute Bookstore.Venkatraman is the author of several books and articles for children and adults. Her most recent book, The Forbidden Temple, is a work of historical fiction for young adults. In this book ten fascinating stories based on fact are created that showcase the history of India from 3500 BC onward.The author obtained a doctorate in oceanography at the College of William and Mary. After completing her post-doctoral research at Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Environmental Engineering, she began to devote most of her time to writing fiction, poetry and science. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry for adults as well as children have been published in India, Europe and the USA (most notably by Highlights and the Cricket magazine group). She writes regular science columns for leading Indian newspapers and magazines.She teaches at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, on a part-time basis. Her other interests comprise a long list that includes yoga, art, music, hiking, canoeing and horseback riding. She lives in Jamestown.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A previously published interview - 2

Interview 2005

Why did you choose to write kids books?

I am working on my first novel for adults and have completed 2 novels for young adults, so I write for all age groups, not exclusively for kids. Most of my work is for the juvenile market, though – probably because I love writing and reading kid’s books! I don’t set the age of the target audience when I plan a book – the story comes first, and it naturally sets its own audience.

What do you write about, and do you have a defined purpose in mind when you write a book? (For example, to educate/entertain/develop reading skills).

I have a purpose sometimes, but not always. My unpublished novels are on topics that are dear to my heart, but they aren’t written with any message in mind.

With The Forbidden Temple, the idea wasn’t to educate, necessarily, but rather to explore a subject that I loved, in a creative manner. Many adults say they have read it and enjoyed it and learned a lot from it.

This has been my most successful book, thus far. The second edition is being printed currently, and I’ve been approached for translation rights.

A chapter is being incorporated into a text book which will be published by Ratna Sagar. It is also being used in schools as supplemental reading and I’ve written a teacher’s guide to help use the book in English and/or History classes. I never really expected to, though. When I wrote it, I was just passionately involved with incorporating historically accurate details. It was fun. With my 2 animal series, and with my regular columns in the Hindu and Sanctuary, the idea is to educate and entertain at the same time.

What do you like most about writing children’s books?

The rigor. In a book for adults, you can ramble on for a bit, but in a children’s book you can’t – kids won’t put up with what they don’t like reading, unlike adults, who will stay a while longer, to try and figure out if the book gets better. Also, writing children’s book helps me stay positive. Although I’ve explored some serious and sad subjects, on the whole, when I write for children, I feel optimistic. When I write for adults, I allow myself to get pessimistic at times, to see cruelty more clearly, to be harsh.

What do you think Indian kids are missing, as far as contemporary (kids) books go?

They are missing a few things, but I think this will change in the next decade. What would I like to see more of? Indian authors writing just for fun. Indian booksellers displaying Indian authors prominently – some do, some don’t. Indian parents buying Indian authors and reading them out to their children, Indian parents promoting books they like – many do, but I wish there were many more! Indian publishers who take risks – some do, most don’t.

Unfortunately, there’s a myth that poetry, fantasy and pure fiction written by Indian authors doesn’t sell – one that prevents children from having easy access to purely imaginative material written by Indians. Harry Potter is great, but unfortunately even he hasn’t been able to make this myth vanish.

And another really important development that needs to happen: Indian authors need to be recognized internationally. Unfortunately, despite all that’s written about the desire to have more multicultural literature about, book publishers in the West are still publishing inaccurate, unauthentic books about other cultures written by western authors and aren’t doing enough to seek out and show case true ethnic diversity.

What’s the best response you’ve had from a kid who’s read a book of yours?

I’ve had so many positive responses, and every single one is the sweetest and the best! Many have said The Forbidden Temple made them like history, which is, of course, thrilling. A few have said they wanted to be like me (writers or chemists or oceanographers or scientists) after reading one of my books. A few have spoken about questions that popped into their minds after reading or said they had a better understanding of emotions or problems, which is touching.

The best published response from a child: “Super, Ma!” (daughter of Uma Girish, Indian Review of Books).

How do you think Indian kids abroad will benefit?

Some Indian American children tell me that my books make them feel connected with India in a way that nothing else did before. Indian kids abroad don’t have many books about Indian history, and it seems to be a wonderful thing for them to discover what a rich, ancient, accepting, and advanced cultural heritage they are heir to. Some like just having protagonists with Indian names! Many of them have also said they are thrilled when they read an Indian children’s author who is “just as good as anyone else” – a wonderful affirmation for any author.

What’s the best response from a parent?

Again, there have been so many responses that warmed my heart – from grandparents, parents and teachers. It’s really hard to pick. I love it when a parent tells me that their child’s favourite book is mine. I love it when someone I don’t know writes to let me know how much they (or their kids or students) enjoyed a book. I love it when friends and members of family feel proud and happy on my behalf and tell me how they feel and do what they can to promote my books. Here are some eloquent parental reviews:

“I enjoyed the book so much that I ended up feeling sorry for myself – that no one had taught me history the way Padma did through her book. History for most of us is just that: history. Yet, we forget that people who lived in the long forgotten past were living, breathing human beings with joys, sorrows and anxieties of their own. Padma does an absolutely fantastic job of bringing these people alive, so despite the huge “age gap”, we can relate to them as contemporary human beings. It’s no longer history but stories of us. This should be made into a compulsory “text book” and all history books should be written this way. Preferably by Padma.” (Chetan Dhruve, Journalist).

“Your book is simply exquisite, Padma. After reading each story, I just wanted to close my eyes and imagine the whole world in that story - you really have a great talent! Hope you write more such books. How do books get awards? Do they need to get nominated by other literary folk or is it the lay public that nominates? If only the right people can see your book, there will be no doubt about it's award-winning calibre.” (Anita Shet, pediatrician).

Tell us something about your journey as a child, and how that influences what you write.

That’s a tough question. I’ve had an interesting life, so far. My childhood was unusual…and I don’t want to go into it too much, except to say that I was lucky to have the amazing love of two wonderful people: my mother and my gardener, whose faith in my abilities helped me and still does help me. My childhood taught me not to idolize, not to stereotype. I learned quite early that age and experience don’t necessarily bring wisdom, just as childhood isn’t necessarily an innocent period when one’s heart is filled with kindness. I was quite a serious child, and I was always appreciative of the beauty of the world and of living in it. Most important of all, I learned the importance of laughter, and that it is good to have the ability to step back from things, not to take your self too seriously, and to always try and see the funny side of things.

Other influences?

My dearest and most wonderful life partner – he is a constant source of support. The dear friends I have, their faith in my writing and their sincere encouragement. The many wonderful people I have been privileged to meet. The many countries I have had the wonderful opportunity to live in. My schizophrenic interests: the world of mathematical sciences and the world of art. The human ability to conquer cruelty, to survive hardship, to be compassionate. The beauty of this world, the joy of life. Last, but not least, the many fabulous authors I have read, including Shelly, with whom I disagree – our sweetest songs are NOT always those that tell of saddest thought; our sincerest laughter is NOT always fraught with some pain!

What book are you currently writing?

A tough question. I work on multiple projects at the same time. I am working on a chapter book, a novel for adults, a novel for young adults, another fact-fiction book which Tulika plans to publish, and a non-fiction picture book manuscript. I move from one to the other, depending on what I feel most inspired to do!

What are your plans for the future?

To write as much as I can. To write about issues that mean a lot to me, in the hope that I can do my bit to increase (both within myself and in those around me), cultural sensitivity, mutual understanding, kindness, charity, peace, freedom. To give my readers joy. To awaken my own self through my writing. To help make science accessible to managers and decision makers, to underprivileged people, to privileged lay adults who don’t have a science background. To educate people about important issues, such as the contribution of ancient Indians to science and mathematics. To encourage women, international students, racial and economic minorities in the sciences, through my writing. To reach out to children all over the world, from every sphere of life, of every ethnicity, of every nationality. To speak to adults I have never seen. To leave behind books that will survive me, so that I can bring a smile to the lips of someone who is born long after I have died.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Writing journal articles - 2


At the recent workshop I did on finding time to write, someone asked when I use an outline. I had to think. I do use outlines, but there is a great danger of using them as a means to avoid writing. People who don’t enjoy writing often write and outline and then another and another.

If you find yourself falling into this trap, then skip the outline stage, and try to actually write. For a week or two, force yourself to write sentences when you are working on your manuscript, and then, once you have some “bricks” to work with, you can sit back and take another look at how you’ll arrange them.

Just remember that they should be a guide, not a rigorous or restrictive framework. If you think your outline works, try to stick to it, but be aware that you may deviate from it as you write, and sometimes you need the freedom to explore a little, and that could result in an even better work than you’d planned at the beginning. Just as long as your work is evolving, rather than retrogressing – and you should be able to judge that.

Outlines are a useful tool to help you organize your thoughts. They should be used as aids to the process of writing, not an escape from it. Outlines can be helpful, as long as they keep you “in” the writing mode. Toss them out if you find yourself using them to get out of adding substantive content.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Writing journal articles - 1

Thirteen tips on becoming a prolific writer of scientific journal articles
(13 is a lucky number in my culture)

1. Fall in love with writing, right now!
Learn to love the process of writing. For some scientists, it might be an arranged marriage, but you have to do it all your life, so you may as well make yourself fall in love with it. One thing that helps: don’t be hypercritical of your own writing – don’t edit as you write. Write when you write.

2.Don’t say you don’t have time to write even though you want to; you have just as many hours in the day as Einstein, Marie Curie, and Subramanyam Chandrashekar.
This is at least somewhat true.

3. Write everyday, even if you don’t write everyday.
Keep in touch with subject matter mentally on days when you aren’t able to write. Think about it – think actively and constructively about your manuscript – sometime every day – maybe not when you are driving to work, but perhaps at least when you brush your teeth at night. Why? It keeps the subject alive in you.

4. Write as you read.
Read critically; turn on the editor in you as you read other manuscripts and proposals – what works, what doesn’t; what you like and what you don’t and why; what is hard to read and what isn’t – sentences, paragraphs, papers – why are some so easy to read and others so hard to understand – it may be partly because of the writing style.

5. Are you schizophrenic? Do you suffer from mild or not so mild attention deficit disorder?
Someone told me all scientists are. I know I am both, so this statement must be true (n=1). Make ADD work for you: Write different mss or different aspects of your mss. It doesn’t have to move from the beginning to the end, and you can work on many at one time – you probably have to work on many at one time.

6. Don’t start at the very beginning. That’s a very bad place to start.
Scientific manuscripts are NOT written starting with an abstract and proceeding through to the conclusion section. Don't start with the introduction, either. Write your methods down as the experiments are done and make sure to let your students know to do this as well, as they work, not after they are done and can’t remember what on earth they did – you don’t want to wonder later if they did what they said they’d do in their proposal or did they do something differently – and they don’t want to rely on memory rather than writing this section while it’s fresh in their minds. Other sections: keep things in order; file your presentations, abstracts and other “written on the way to the mss” items in the folder where you’ll end up filing your mss. See presentations and abstracts as steps towards the mss and use them as you write.

7. Deal with rejection.
If you think scientific papers and proposals are hard to get accepted, you should really try your hand at writing something else. In my current field, anyone who has an acceptance rate of 5% is considered an “easy” publisher. The moral of the story: keep moving forward; read the reviewer’s comment and then go and have a glass of wine; come back and read them again with a pen and paper so you underline what’s constructive and strike out what isn’t, and, most importantly, start making points on how you’ll address the comments – which ones to address first, etc.

8. Hand someone else a bit of authority.
Set a deadline, and then write to someone else (your internal reviewer) and say, “I’m working on a mss for XXX journal and I’d really like to have your comments. I will be sending it to you on May 5. Thanks!” Why? If you tell someone else you to expect this from you, you are less likely to let your deadline slip. You no longer have a major prof., but you do have colleagues, help yourself help them help you to stay on track.

9. Give yourself a carrot when you get done writing. Champagne works, too.
Yes, you can invite me to the party – so long as it’s a party about finishing a proposal or mss. Getting funded is fabulous – getting a manuscript accepted is magnificent – but the most important thing is finishing that bit of writing – and it’s also something we DON’T pat ourselves on the back for. You carried something through to completion and did the best job you did, didn’t you – reward yourself now! Who cares what NSF or the reviewers think – your tenure panel might – and you might want to care at some later date – but first, CELEBRATE!

10. Make writing a priority.
Doing research without communicating it properly to others is like cooking a meal and then not eating it yourself. Guilt trip yourself if you must – as a scientist, it’s your duty to let others know about the progress you’ve made in your field.

11. List mania.
Aim for the highest and best journal – believe in yourself and let someone else turn you down. And after you send your article off in the mail, get realistic and make a list of all the other journals you can send to if your dream journal doesn’t reply with a romantic review.

12. Respect yourself and others.
Be ethical about authorship and don’t be afraid to ask for it and demand it if you have to. Give others the credit they deserve and take the credit that is rightfully yours.

13. Never compromise quality for quantity.
Don’t go the LPU (least publishable unit) route, but don’t write tomes that people sigh when they look at, either. Write a paper when you feel there’s enough substance – and allow others to be the judge of what’s enough, too. You don’t want to wait too long, but you also don’t get recognition for publishing a lot of poor papers [not the type of recognition you want to, at least].
Prolific is what you define it to be.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A previously published INTERVIEW

Interviewer: Uma Girish

Published in Chatterbox magazine, 2003.

1. Why does science always fall into the 'difficult subject' category in school?

I think it’s because all science involves mathematics, and mathematics is abstract, which can be frustrating to some people. Also, if you don’t understand the fundamentals which are taught very early, it becomes very hard (though not impossible) to do well in it later on.

2. How did you fall in love with science? Was it a wonderful science teacher who encouraged it?

I’ve had many good teachers, which was certainly the main factor. The other two important things that sparked my interest in science early on, were my love for nature and my love of books. Like many other children, I liked to dream about exploring new worlds and wanted to become an astronaut or a marine scientist. I read a lot of books about astronomy at the house of an uncle who worked at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research. I really enjoyed physics when I was young. I also love animals and natural beauty and I spent my formative years at the Krishnamurthi Foundation School in Madras, where concern for the environment was greatly encouraged. When I was in college, I was introduced to Professor Gadagkar by a relative. He is at the Indian Institute of Science and I got my first taste of research when I worked under his guidance. I chose marine science rather than astronomy, because I felt a real need to help save the environment.

3. In your 10-book series 'The Amazing Animal Kingdom', you weave fact and fiction so cleverly that a serious message you slip in is absorbed and remembered by the child with such ease.

Thank you. I have strong views and sometimes they slip into my stories without my noticing that it has happened.

4. How does one make science fun for kids?

First of all, one has to love science and feel comfortable with the subject. If you don’t have a thorough grounding in science, then you may communicate a feeling of fear or inadequacy to the child, rather than sending the message that it is fun. One of the most exciting things about science is the aspect of discovery. Questions come naturally to children, and this is also very important in science. It’s easy to make science fun for kids if one has a thorough knowledge, because kids are naturally fascinated by nature and objects and phenomena around them. Their natural curiosity and urge to discover things on their own needs to be nurtured and guided. I also think that something we really need to do a little more, is expose children to hands-on experiments. Conducting a simple experiment is like playing a game, which is always fun for kids.

5. What does it take to simplify a complex subject like science and make it great reading for kids?

To make science into great reading, you have to enjoy writing. The science itself is secondary, in a sense. Writing has to be your first love, something that comes naturally. Secondly, you have to take writing very seriously and work hard at doing it to the best of your ability. Sometimes, people make the mistake of thinking that writing for children is simpler than writing for adults, but this is just not true. Children are extremely critical and will not read a book that is not interesting. When you write for kids, the responsibility you shoulder is immense. If a child reads a book and gets put off, he or she may decide that reading is boring, or else that the subject (in this case science), is boring. The impact you make on a child can be much more intense and long-lasting than any impact you make on an adult. When you try to simplify a scientific concept and make it into enjoyable reading for kids, you need to check the accuracy of your facts, and then try different approaches and re-write the same story (or article) in different ways to see what’s best. I find it is more demanding to write for children than for adults.

6. When did you discover that you could use your knowledge of science to tell stories for kids?

Earlier, I used to write just poetry and fiction for adults (which I still continue to do). For a very long time, I thought that my involvement with science and my love for creative writing were two distinct worlds. My friend Iwan was the first to suggest that I could combine the two and write lyrically about science. Although he was referring to this at a different level, it was probably the first time I even thought of putting the two together. I grew up with Target, and always wanted to write for children someday. In 1995, I met Sandhya Shridar, who was the editor of Gokulam. She helped me start writing for children and suggested that I could weave my knowledge of science into my work. Mini Krishnan, who worked at Macmillan India, also encouraged me greatly. She convinced me that there was a real need for authors who wanted to try new approaches in the area of science writing for children.

7. Where did the idea for the series come from?

Lots of places! Farida was written before I had the idea for a series. I work in an oceanographic institute where people study marine animals like seahorses and oysters so I had ideas for stories about sea creatures. Then, I met Chandralekha, the editor of Neve, and she invited me to write a series for children. I always liked bats and Balan was a creature that was in my head already, waiting to be fleshed out with a sketch pen. Thangam comes from turtle walks and working at the Madras Croc bank.

8. You write and illustrate for children. That must be a terrific advantage as you see the book in complete form in your mind's eye, and you have full control over how it turns out.

I suppose it is an advantage, because it makes you see the balance between the text and the drawings more clearly, but I think all writers see pictures in their minds. I can give thought to the presentation as a whole but the only person who has full control over how the book turns out is the editor. She (or he), often decides how to package and market the book, how the cover should look, what should be on it, the general layout, etc. So each book is a co-operative effort in which a lot of people work together as a team. An author gets input rather than control, I think. Perhaps more established authors have greater say, but I am relatively new at this, and I feel I have a great deal to learn. I hope to improve as a writer in the years to come, as I gain experience and get feedback from different sources. I plan to concentrate on writing in the years to come, and leave illustration to others with greater talent.

9. Shouldn't authors like you really be writing science textbooks to make it creative and fun for school curriculum?

I’d be more than glad to write a textbook that’s creative and fun. I have been talking to the editor of Neve about bringing out a series which will be a little like a set of creative textbooks. I hope to have the opportunity to do more projects along these lines but there are some unique problems faced by Indian publishers (through no fault of their own), that I don’t want to expand on.

One thing all of us can do to help to increase the quality and quantity of creative books including text books, is to buy innovative books written by our own authors. Actively seek out Indian authors when you are in a bookstore. Take pride in Indian authors who work hard to write for Indian children! Encourage them by buying their work and talking to others about how much you like their books!

9. You are a marine scientist. Would you tell our readers what a marine scientist studies and works at?

I’m an oceanographer (marine scientist), who specializes in environmental chemistry – that means physical chemistry, really, with aspects of environmental engineering. Unfortunately, when people hear the word marine, they automatically think it goes with biology – but it doesn’t have to. In my case, it doesn’t work at all – I’m about as far away from biology as I can be – and not a biologist by any stretch of the imagination.

Oceanography is the study of the oceans. It is a really exciting field, which combines physics, chemistry, biology and geology. The “distinct” areas of science are linked and oceanographers have to be able to understand and make connections among the different disciplines. You can’t ignore any of these fundamental sciences if you are an oceanographer. For example, if you want to study what happens to an oil spill (chemistry) in the oceans, you need to know about water movement (Physics) as well as whether or not bacteria can chew up some of the chemicals (biology) and so on. Oceanographers often go on ships to gather data. Some of them dive or study the ocean in underwater vehicles. If you don’t enjoy working outdoors, you can still become an oceanographer, and work in the laboratory or use remote methods to study the oceans or do computer models – but I think working on (or in) the water, is one of the best things about oceanography.

10. Do you have one (or more) favourite title(s) in 'The Amazing Animal Kingdom' series? Why?

I enjoyed writing each and every one of them. I guess I am a little partial to Balan, Farida and Bharathi. Balan, because I wish he would walk off the page so I could stroke his fur! Farida and Bharathi, because the stories came into my head so easily. Those stories wrote themselves effortlessly. The science and the story just fit in perfectly. I do like them all, though. When you write a book, even a little tiny book, the characters become real in a way, so I don’t enjoy picking favourites!

Monday, April 24, 2006


Carefully researched, fascinating stories of children in India since 3500 B.C. … imagination takes off from carefully researched facts … a fascinating treat for children…an activity trail that innovatively makes fact finding a fun-filled exercise (The Deccan Herald)

The author's credentials have resulted in creating just that exciting blend of fact and fiction … an inveigling story line… a delightful collection that must grace the bookshelf of every child … (Uma Girish , Indian review of Books)

The stories are narrated in simple clear language evoking the sights and sounds of the particular region… the judicious mix of fact and fiction keeps you interested and kindles an interest to know more … a treasure trove of knowledge and fun, an unusual blend indeed … (Rohini Ramakrishna, The Hindu)

This book is definitely worth picking up. Especially if your history lessons have bored you. For this teaches you that history is about real people and as fascinating as any work of fiction. (Priya M Menon , School Magazine)

… sure to appeal to the age group mentioned …(N.Meera Raghavendra Rao, The Hindu)

Padma is able to explain scientific concepts … without talking down to children … the narrative tone is original and lively, the facts are given in an accessible form … (Prema Srinivasan, The Hindu)

Lovely books …I know children will love the slim books … (Afternoon Dispatch and Courier)

…a rare sensitivity to the sights and sounds of nature … well attuned to the swing of choice words… (Prema Nandakumar, The Deccan Herald)

TV Padma's delightful book is a boon for curious children … the stories are meticulously researched … The author's scientific background is evident in the careful sidenotes and detailed bibliography … The charm of the stories is not restricted to their unusual settings. Each story goes beyond location to capture a situation that is timeless and universal… Older children will be intrigued … and this book will go far towards increasing their appreciation for history and good writing. (Susan Chacko,

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Post-doctoral research, 2001-2003: Department of Environmental Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, USA.
Ph.D., 2001: Oceanography, College of William and Mary, USA.
Bsc., 1989: Chemistry and Environmental Science, St. Joseph’s College, India.


The Albertosaurus Mystery (working title; accepted for publication by Bearport Publishers, USA); Picture Book.
Seeking starry secrets: The astronomer, Caroline Herschel (working title; accepted for publication by Morgan Reynolds, USA); Adult/ Young Adult biography.
2004: The Forbidden Temple, historical fiction novel, (ages 10 and over), Tulika, India. The 2nd edition of this book was printed in 2005 in conjunction with Orient Longman; translation rights have been sold; a chapter has been adapted for use in a text book.
2004: Paper etchings, (poetry), The Writer’s Workshop, India.
2003: Around the world with animals. Series of 8 books published by Brightsparks, India.
2001: The amazing animal kingdom. Series of 10 books published by Neve, India.

Published juvenile fiction (magazines):
The most valuable treasure (accepted), Highlights magazine, USA.
How Savitri tricked the God of Death (accepted), Cricket magazine, USA.
Ali’s Olive Jar (accepted), Spider magazine, USA.
2005: Chichibio and the one-legged crane. Faces, USA.
2004: Birbal and the Barber, Spider, (Carus publications) USA. Reprint and translation rights for this article sold to Measured Progress Company (Local Market Itembank), in 2006.
2003: A fair division. Highlights for children, USA.
2002: Rounding up camels. Odyssey, (Carus publications) USA.

Published juvenile non-fiction (magazines):
Polar Dinosaurs (accepted), Calliope (Carus publications), USA.
2006: Is this a Rembrandt, Calliope (Carus publications), USA.
2006: The Rabbit in the Moon, Appleseeds (Carus publications), USA.
2006: Shinto, Appleseeds (Carus publications), USA.
2006: Saffron Yoghurt, Calliope (Carus publications), USA.
2005: Sounding out the sea’s secrets, Faces (Carus publications), USA.
2005: Mapping Distant Planets, Faces (Carus publications), USA.
2005: Marie Tharp, Faces (Carus publications), USA.
2005: Craig Kielburger, Appleseeds (Carus publications), USA.
2005: Sea monsters in Kansas, Ask (Carus publications), USA.
2001: High Tech on the High Seas. Appleseeds (Carus Publications), USA.
2000: Space, Science Weekly (contract work for Harcourt and Steck-Vaughn publishers). 1999-2003: Science writer for the children’s magazine, Chatterbox.
1998: Science and Law (series), The Hindu, India.
1995: Non-fiction writer for the children’s magazine Gokulam, India.

Poetry for children:
My face, 1995, Gokulam, India
Morning Gold, 1995, A Place in the Woods, USA

Poetry for adults:
1998: The Wait (nominated for the 24th Annual Pushcart Prize), Snowy Egret, USA
1999: Moment in a Park, Snowy Egret, USA
1995: Beetle, Mobius, USA
1995: Dusk, Mobius, USA
1994: Shell, The Parnassus Literary Journal, USA
1991: Raindrop and the Leaf, East West Publishers, India
1988: On Being Indian, Wake up India Magazine, India
1987: The Dark Pond that Shone with Light, Delhi‑London Poetry Quarterly, UK

Regular science columns for children:
· Monthly columns written for Maitree (TCS) website.
· Science world. Weekly science column, The Hindu newspaper, est. 1848., India.
· Science! Weekly science column, The Times of India, NIE.
· Brain food. Quarterly math and science column for Kahani, a magazine for South Asian American children, USA.

Writing scholarships:
Highlights Foundation annual writer’s conference at Chataqua, 2006.

· India (special interests: Indian history, folklore, architecture, sculpture, painting, classical music, philosophy, biographies of Indians, especially philosophers and scientists)
· Mathematics, K-12.
· Physics (special interests: atmosphere and hydrosphere, ocean currents and water movement)
· Chemistry (special interests: environmental chemistry, pollution)
· Geology (special interests: plate tectonics, climate change)
· Oceanography (special interests: ancient marine life; marine biology; microbiology; marine technology; water chemistry; rivers; seas; explorers; navigation)
· History of science (special interests: multicultural contributions; biographies of female scientists and scientists of color)
. Environmental Engineering