Dancing Deepa

Children - Picture Book
38 Pages
Reviewed on 11/14/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

SUCHI SAIRAM is an Indian-Texan-Minnesotan-American with her feet firmly and proudly planted in multiple cultures and identities. She is equally an engineer and artist, leader and entrepreneur, student and teacher.

Suchi’s 35+ year journey in the Indian classical arts as a student, teacher, dancer, choreographer and performer alongside her long career in corporate and small businesses gives her a unique world view. Her St. Paul, MN based dance studio and company, Kala Vandanam, celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2022.

Dancing Deepa was inspired by a conversation with one of her adult dance students, lamenting the lack of child-friendly books about Indian art forms. Inspired by the conversation, she asked herself, “Why not you, and why not now?” The answer was Dancing Deepa.

Suchi strongly believes children should see themselves in books they read and in the world around them. She wrote Dancing Deepa to amplify her dance students’ experiences and encourage every young person out there to share their interests and gifts with the world around them. Her greatest wish is for each of us to show up in the world as your full selves - every day, all the time.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Diana Lopez for Readers' Favorite

Dancing enables children to have better control of their bodies and express themselves more freely, but sometimes they may feel exposed and be afraid of being judged. That is why it is necessary to teach them to have self-confidence. Dancing Deepa by Suchi Sairam focuses on this idea. The story concerns Deepa, an elementary school girl who sees an advertisement for a talent show at her school. She is excited to see a poster with images of the different activities, but she becomes discouraged when she doesn't find what she likes best. She practices an Indian dance called Bharatanatyam. Deepa knows that dancing is an activity performed with love and wants to share her joy with her schoolmates. She is worried about taking the risk without knowing the opinions of her schoolmates and fears the possible criticism she may receive. But she also knows it is up to her to have the courage to act.

Suchi Sairam explores significant ideas in a short story that is easy to follow. She teaches children to be brave and to take risks, while at the same time encouraging them to be comfortable with their customs and traditions. In this way, children will be better equipped to accept living in a multicultural society. I liked the images because they were colorful and expressive. They also convey a spirit of mutual support among schoolmates. Although children may practice activities other than dance, they will identify with Deepa because of her doubts. They will understand that it is normal to be nervous in new situations and will be inspired to find the courage they need. Dancing Deepa will motivate young readers to strive for an environment without prejudice.

Nino Lobiladze

Deepa, a 4th-grade student of Beer Creek Elementary School, is a passionate dancer. She loves to dance and the dance she studies originates from India. It is called Bharathanatyam. This dance is complicated, requiring different rhythmical music and colorful costume. But Deepa is afraid to perform Bharathanatyam for her classmates during an upcoming talent show. She thinks that her friends would see her favorite dance as weird or funny and disapprove of it. Thus, Deepa skips the talent show, preferring to cheer for her friends as a viewer. But the lost opportunity to share the dance she loves so much with her friends breaks Deepa's heart. Her teacher, Miss Molina, couldn't help but notice that Deepa was unusually sad. She offered Deepa a great solution. Dancing Deepa by Suchi Sairam is an emotional and educational read for children from eight years of age.

Suchi Sairam lovingly depicts a talented girl who is afraid of being misunderstood. More than that, Deepa's main concern is that her friends might not share the admiration of her cultural heritage. Dancing Deepa speaks about the innermost feelings of a child with sympathy and understanding. Often it takes a huge effort to show others what we love to do the most. Sairam suggests a way that requires courage and openness. Beautiful and positive illustrations by Vidya Vasudevan reveal marvelous features of Bharatanatyam's costume, movements, and postures. I liked that the author added a background to the story, explaining Bharathanatyam with easy-to-comprehend yet delightful details like the sound of the bells or the necessary facial expressions of a dancer. This story will encourage children to be themselves despite any cultural differences. I believe that parents and teachers would be excited to learn more about one of the most cherished treasures of Indian culture - the magical Bharathanatyam.

Asher Syed

Dancing Deepa, written by Suchi Sairam and illustrated by Vidya Vasudevan, is a children's picture book that revolves around a young girl named Deepa. Deepa's school is hosting a talent show and through her point of view, readers are told that Deepa loves a classical Indian dance style called Bharatanatyam; pronounced buh-ruh-thuh-naaht-yum. After a great deal of internal debate, Deepa decides she will not participate in the talent show out of fear that it would not be received positively by the other students. When her teacher notices the usually spry Deepa is looking forlorn, she offers Deepa another chance to showcase a piece of her cultural identity.

As someone who was born and raised in South Asia, and who is now raising my own children in the West, I understand how scary it can be for a child to feel like they are 'other' than. Dancing Deepa addresses this within the context of a talent show and it is a good approach for author Suchi Sairam to take as both a message to be provided and to teach readers about Bharatanatyam. The density of text with regard to the story is far more loquacious than books written for the children it is age-appropriate for, but the illustrations by Vidya Vasudevan are so well done that my youngest reader remained visually engaged. The colors and original art are vibrant and truly beautiful, highlighting the contrast between Deepa's life and activities in school and those she enjoys equally with a dance teacher, her family, and her heritage. Vasudevan's talent as an artist shines on a kid-lit platform and brightened up a normal bedtime read for us.

Pikasho Deka

Dancing Deepa is a children's picture book by Suchi Sairam. With some mesmerizing illustrations by Vidya Vasudevan, the book follows Deepa, a talented young girl who has a deep love for dancing. Deepa's heart leaps when she sees a talent audition poster on the walls of Bear Creek Elementary. But soon, she begins to wonder if her form of dancing, Bharatanatyam, an Indian dance style, will be accepted or understood by her classmates and teachers. On the day of the talent show, Deepa is awed by the unique skills of the participants. Yet she goes home feeling a bit sad that she couldn't perform. When Miss Molina notices Deepa's sadness, she learns of the reason why and soon prepares a fun lesson for the class that makes Deepa feel included and accepted for who she is.

Author Suchi Sairam tells a beautiful story about embracing diversity. Dancing Deepa is a charming tale about a young girl's desire to express herself in her own way. The book celebrates the unique qualities that make us who we are and sheds light on the fact that unity in diversity only makes for a richer culture. Deepa is an adorable child who has doubts about her form of dancing and hesitates to perform in front of her peers. But Miss Molina plays an important role in encouraging and nurturing Deepa's talent, giving her the confidence to express herself without fear. Vidya Vasudevan's colorful illustrations are the icing on the cake. Overall, a much-needed children's book about diversity.