Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Fiction Dance

Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes

by (author) Mahak Jain

illustrated by Anu Chouhan

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2022
Dance, Asian American, Diversity & Multicultural, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2022
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2
  • Reading age: 4 to 7


“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.

About the authors

Mahak Jain is a writer and editor based in Toronto, Ontario. She is enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Guelph, where she is working on a novel. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Room Magazine and The New Quarterly, and her first book for children is forthcoming from Owlkids Books in 2016. She was previously the Managing Editor at Owlkids and at Lobster Press, and continues to provide editorial services on a freelance basis. Maya is Mahak's first picture book.

Mahak Jain's profile page

ANU CHOUHAN is a Punjabi-Canadian illustrator and video game artist. Anu recently illustrated the graphic novel adaptation of the New York Times bestselling book Aru Shah and the End of Time, and is working on her picture book debut. Her art has been featured by the CBC, the BBC, Harper’s Bazaar, Bride India, The Times of India, and The Times of London. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Learn more at

Anu Chouhan's profile page


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

Editorial Reviews

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“A sweet story with charming illustrations.”

Booklist, 05/01/22

“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

Other titles by

Other titles by

Related lists