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Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes

By Mahak Jain
Illustrated by Anu Chouhan
Interest Age: 4–7
Grade: p–2
Reading Level: Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature: RL.2.2.1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Reading Level: Lexile AD540L
Hardcover : 9781773216157, 36 pages, March 2022 , 10.25" x 8.5"
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781773216164, 36 pages, March 2022


“A necessary tool for helping children understand and develop cultural competency and compassion early on.” —School Library Journal

A girl explores her love of dancing and her cultural identity in a lively picture book with echoes of the real-life collaboration between Bharatanatyam icon Rukmini Devi Arundale and ballerina Anna Pavlova. 

Paro comes from a dancing family. At home, she dances Bharatanatyam with her mom, and now she’s excited to learn ballet. But what if she can’t dance like the other kids in her class? Ballerinas move like fairies, while Bharatanatyam dancers seem like queens. Paro can’t be both...can she? Anu Chouhan’s vibrant, energetic illustrations emphasize themes of creative flexibility and navigating the intersections of different cultural identities.

The book’s backmatter includes an author’s note describing the inspiration behind the story, (the real-life meeting and collaboration of Bharatanatyam dancer Rukmini Devi and ballerina Anna Pavlova), a DIY ghungroo (ankle bell) activity, and a pronunciation and etymology guide.


  • Nominated, Blue Spruce Award, OLA 2022
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Books Centre 2022
  • Commended, South Asia Book Award, Honor Book 2023


“A colorful celebration of dance. The story was enjoyable, the illustrations were divine, and I loved how diverse and inclusive all of the characters were.”

- The Bookshelf Corner, 01/29/22

“A worthy addition to any library, and a necessary tool for helping children understand and develop cultural competency and compassion early on.”

- School Library Journal, 03/01/22

“Chouhan’s bright and engaging illustrations are a fitting accompaniment to Jain’s tale about a child whose confidence slowly but surely grows . . . A warm and encouraging read.”

- Kirkus Reviews, 03/31/22

“A sweet story with charming illustrations.”

- Booklist, 05/01/22

“A lovingly told and presented story, sure to captivate those interested in dance as it highlights the artistry and respective beauty of two esteemed classical dance styles.”

- Quill & Quire, 04/22

“A beautiful story with multicultural characters, and the themes of dance and the importance of learning about different cultures are all meaningful to young readers. Highly recommended.”

- CM Reviews, 03/25/22

“Inclusive and engaging . . .  Illustrated with a creative balance of color and culture, this books is captivating from beginning to end!”

- Canadian Teacher Magazine, 10/01/22