Review: A Time to Dance

“There are no dancers / on this temple’s walls. / Here, even Shiva / stands still.” page 99

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A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman.
Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Group, New York, 2014.
Novel in verse, 307 pages.
Lexile:  720L  .
AR Level:  4.8 (worth 5.0 points)  .

Veda is a classical dance prodigy starting out on a glorious career in Bharatanatyam when her leg has to be amputated.  But dance is her life and the center of her being.  Can she forge a new life?  Can dance be part of it?

A Time to Dance

Pretty sure this is going on my favorite 2017 reads list although the competition will be steep this year.  Not what you expected me to say about a novel in verse, right?

My biggest problem with novels in verse is that they are incredibly difficult to balance.  I love novels, and I love poetry, but inevitably most novels in verse lose out either in plot or in poetry.  This book has ample plot and appropriate narrative arc, while still having generally gorgeous poetry.  I’m in awe of how Venkatraman pulled this off, because it is very, very difficult to do.

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Review: Save Me a Seat

“They don’t understand how hard it is for me to follow directions when the electric pencil sharpener is going, or the door keeps slamming, or I’m worrying about whether someone is about to sneak up behind me and do something mean.” p. 54

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.
Scholastic, New York, 2016.
Realistic chapter book fiction, 216 pages + extras.
Lexile: 780L
AR Level: 4.8 (worth 5.0 points)

Ravi (pronounced Rah-VEE) is new to America, but confident that he will be the smartest and most popular kid in 5th grade, just like he was back home.

Joe’s no stranger to Albert Einstein Elementary, but he’s facing some new challenges this year.  He’s always had Auditory Processing Disorder, but this year his best friends have moved away, and his mother’s taken a job at school, ruining his favorite subject: lunch.

This novel takes place over their first week of fifth grade, broken up into five days and alternating viewpoints between the two narrators.  The chapters tend to be short, and between the two narrators they cover a lot of ground.

save-me-a-seat-cropped-resized
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

I had heard a lot of buzz about this book, so I was really excited to read it.  It’s a good fit for this blog also as both of the main characters are from traditionally marginalized groups.

The book opens with Ravi’s perspective.  He comes off as a little bit arrogant but the reader is still able to sympathize with him.  He is the only Indian in the class, at least by his grandmother’s standards.  Most of the kids are white, but there is a boy named Dillon who is American-born but from an ethnically Indian family.  Clearly, Ravi thinks, they will be best friends.

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