I was born in India and grew up there. At the age of 19, I moved abroad and came to the United States to pursue a graduate degree in oceanography. I was the youngest, by far, at the College of William and Mary (where I conducted my doctoral research). There I found that although I loved mathematics and science, I also continued to love the world of words.
I've had a most interesting life: among other things, I've spent time diving off the coast of the Andaman Islands, worked as a post-doctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University's School of Engineering, led and directed a school in England, and acted as chief scientist on research cruises on the Baltic. But more than all this, I love and enjoy the process of writing.
Why? Because I think the science I may have done could be done by someone else. And because, during the process of writing , I feel a little as if, to put in in the words of the philosopher J. Krishnamurthi, "the mind is in the heart".
Padma Venkatraman’s inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience of the human spirit.
Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance?so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.
Age Range: 12 and up / Grade Level: 7 and up
From the acclaimed author of Climbing the Stairs comes a fascinating story set on a remote island untouched by time. Uido is ecstatic about becoming her tribe's spiritual leader, but her new position brings her older brother's jealousy and her best friend's mistrust. And looming above these troubles are the recent visits of strangers from the mainland who have little regard for nature or the spirits, and tempt the tribe members with gifts, making them curious about modern life. When Uido's little brother falls deathly ill, she must cross the ocean and seek their help. Having now seen so many new things, will Uido have the strength to believe in herself and the old ways? And will her people trust her to lead them to safety when a catastrophic tsunami threatens? Uido must overcome everyone's doubts, including her own, if she is to keep her people safe and preserve the spirituality that has defined them.
Drawing on firsthand experience from her travels to the Andaman Islands, Padma Venkatraman was inspired to write this story after meeting natives who survived the 2004 tsunami and have been able to preserve their unique way of life. Uido's transformation from a young girl to tribal leader will touch both your heart and mind.
Age Level: 10 and up | Grade Level: 5 and up
Fifteen-year-old Vidya dreams of going to college— an unusual aspiration for a girl living in British occupied India
during World War II. Then tragedy strikes, and Vidya and her brother are forced to move into a traditional household
with their extended family, where women are meant to be married, not educated. Breaking the rules, Vidya finds
refuge in her grandfather’s library. But then her brother does something unthinkable, and Vidya’s life becomes a
whirlwind of political and personal complications. The question is, will she be strong enough to survive?