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.
Anu Chouhan is a Punjabi-Canadian illustrator and former mobile game artist from Vancouver, BC. A trained animator and character designer, Anu often combines her love of her cultural heritage, anime, and global fashion into her art. She enjoys creating art that celebrates diversity and empowerment.
- Nominated, Blue Spruce Award, OLA
- Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Books Centre
“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 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
“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 sweet story with charming illustrations.”