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A Time to Dance Hardcover – May 1, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up—Despite the pressure from her parents to become an engineer, Veda dreams of being a dancer. She studies the classical Indian dance, Bharatanatyam, and has reached the competition finals. Impressed with her graceful lines and skill, the judges award her first place, and Veda is ecstatic. After posing for pictures, she is injured in an accident on the way home and her leg has to be amputated below the right knee. Devastated, she lies in her hospital bed devoid of hope until one day her doctor introduces her to a specialist from America. He sparks optimism in her because he understands that she needs to dance. Eventually Veda receives a prosthetic limb that allows her to walk and dance once again. She finds a new teacher for whom dance is more than a technical performance; it is an art form. Veda is placed with a student teacher, Govinda, who not only supports her as she relearns and strengthens her dancing but also becomes her friend. 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.—Laura Fields Eason, Henry F. Moss Middle School, Bowling Green, KY

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Veda lives with her warm, traditional parents and sweet grandmother, Paati. She blissfully expresses herself through dance, even though engineering is her expected career goal. When tragedy strikes, she struggles to find her rhythm using her new, severely diminished physicality. 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 well 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 her, “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) 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. Set amid a cardamom-, melted butter-, and semolina sojji-infused landscape, the novel’s emotional expression and accompanying music impel the reader to share Veda’s belief that “Shiva dances everywhere. In everyone. In everything.” Grades 7-12. --Gail Bush

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (May 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399257101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399257100
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Padma Venkatraman is an American citizen and lives in Rhode Island.
Padma Venkatraman's most recent novel, A TIME TO DANCE, was released in May 2014 to starred reviews in Kirkus, Booklist, VOYA and SLJ, and rave reviews online and in newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and The Denver Post. A TIME TO DANCE is also an IndieBound KidsNext Summer 2014 List selection.
CLIMBING THE STAIRS was released to starred reviews in Booklist, PW and VOYA, and ISLAND'S END was also released to starred reviews in KIRKUS, Booklist, PW, and SLJ. CLIMBING THE STAIRS won the 2009 Julia Ward Howe Boston Authors Club Medal (YA) and the ASTAL RI Book of the Year award, as well as several other honors, including: Bank Street College of Education Best Book, ALA/YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, Booklist Editor's Choice Best Book of the Year, NYPL Best Book for the Teen Age, 2009 CCBC choice, NCSS/CBC Notable SS Trade Book, Capitol Choices Award, PA School ibrary Association Top 40, CLN Top 25 07-08, ALA/Amelia Bloomer 2009 Book, PW Flying Start, and Booksense Notable. ISLAND'S END won the South Asia Book Award as well as the Paterson Prize and was honored as a YALSA ALA/BBYA, ALA/Amelia Bloomer selection, CCBC choice, Kirkus Best Book, Booklist Best Book, and a finalist for the Crystal Kite and Julia Ward Howe awards. Padma Venkatraman has a doctorate in oceanography and was a researcher for many years before she wrote her novels.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Crystal on October 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
From the very first scene of the book, it is obvious that dance is not just something that Veda does, it is her passion. When she dances, she is fully alive and she feels beautiful. Her accident threatens to bring all of her dreams crashing down, but Veda finds the determination to start again. She has a doctor and family that believes in her and it helps that she is stubborn too.

Not long ago, I saw a comment on Twitter about how not many young adult novels deal with religion. In A Time to Dance, religion and spirituality play a very big role. By the second page, the connection between God and dance has been made. Veda and her family visit a temple with sculptures of dancers on the walls. When she climbs up to see them, a priest explains, “You don’t have to climb ladders to reach God. He dances within all He creates.” In the aftermath of her accident and other issues she faces throughout the book, Veda questions her belief though. She questions the value of prayer and wonders what God is. Veda has a physical journey as she relearns how to walk and dance, but she also has a spiritual journey as she begins to see dance as more than just a skill to learn. As she had been competing and performing, she was working for the applause and awards, but she begins to learn that there is more to dance than she had imagined.

I really appreciated the family relationships in the story. Her grandmother is very influential in her life. She models a spiritual life and she nurtures Veda daily with snacks, massages, hugs, listening and much more. Their relationship is beautiful. Her grandmother is also the person who suggests a new dance teacher for Veda – one who is focused on the emotional expression and devotion in dance and not on competition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sandra on September 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
In A Time to Dance, Padma Venkatraman introduces readers to the dynamics of three generations of a contemporary Indian family. Even though the story is told through the perspective of the granddaughter, the reader is able to understand how the mother and grandmother’s choices affected their respective lives. Each character reveals a different layer of personal strength and sacrifice as they respond to the expectations of Indian culture.

At a young age, the main character, Veda, develops a passion for dance and is willing to endure whatever is necessary to pursue her dream. Early on Veda shares her sentiments. “Pain is proof of my hard work, proof of my love for dance.”(18) This career objective puts her in direct conflict with her mother. She prefers that Veda excel in science or mathematics and eventually become an engineer. Despite her mother’s objections, Veda continues to study dance.

After the emotional high of winning a Bharatanatyam dance competition, Veda’s aspirations are unexpectedly curtailed. A van accident causes the death of the driver and amputation of Veda’s right leg below the knee. Suddenly, her world that was previously filled with music is now silent. She candidly admits, “ I don’t know who I am anymore.” (45)

Using first person verse, Padma showcases the physical and emotional challenges that Veda faces as she copes with her disability in Chennai, India. The author’s conscious word choice and simple structure promote a quick read that leaves a lasting impression.

For consolation, Veda turns to her family members, friends, medical personnel, Hindu beliefs, and eventually dance. Veda’s special relationship with her grandmother, Paati, is highlighted. Her grandmother was widowhood at a young age.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kn_s VINE VOICE on May 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book on so many levels. You can really feel and identify with Veda and her struggles through the vivid characterisation.Then you can identify with the art form brought to life by understanding the immersive devotion required by its practitioners. The author captured the spiritual and meditative release practicing any art offers. And the heartwarming story arc of not letting the loss of a limb and societal emphasis on physical perfection define you was the bonus.
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Format: Paperback
Diversity and disability are two themes not often found together in one story, which is why I felt attracted to A Time To Dance by Padma Venkatraman. With regards to both, A Time To Dance didn’t disappoint me. Surprisingly, I also appreciated the novel’s third theme of spirituality. A Time To Dance is a moving and lyrical narrative of an Indian dancer who not only refuses to give up after losing her leg but also discovers love and faith.

First let me cover the diversity theme. What stood out most to me is how universal the main character’s story is, but yet at the same time how intertwined culture was to the story. Veda grows up having a passion for dance, not atypical for young women anywhere, but what’s more unique is the Bharatanatyam dancing Veda does. Veda’s mother is less thrilled, feeling that a dance career won’t provide an adequate income. Again, this isn’t an atypical parental response. What’s perhaps more unique is the hope that Veda will become a doctor or engineer. Veda’s family lives in a concrete high-rise apartment, not an atypical setting. However, other details are more unique such as the mosquito-netting that covers Veda at night in the hospital after her accident. From the mother’s attire of a sari, the grandmother’s snacks of cooked semolina, and even the sesame oil used to massage Veda’s muscles after a dance practice, the background is naturally woven into the story. Even Venkatraman’s style itself fluently draws upon Indian culture. For example, she compares the grandmother’s attentive watch to a snake following the motion of a snake charmer’s pipe. One can’t read A Time To Dance without being immersed into the Indian culture and yet the story could have happened outside of India.

Next let me turn to the disability theme.
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