Dancing in Thatha’s Footsteps

Yali. Jun. 2021. 36p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781949528909.
Gr 1-3–A tribute to the classical dance form bharatanatyam that originated in India nearly 2000 years ago, this title also honors the Tamil language along with girls and boys who remain connected with their heritage through the dance. Young Varun tags along with his older sister Varsha, accompanied by their grandfather Thatha, to her weekly classical dance lesson. Although he hears from Varsha and from his friends that dance is not for boys, Varun increasingly hears the rhythms of dance in the sounds of the world all around him. He returns to the dance school but is mocked by the girls who attend there. A surprise to all but the teacher, Thatha reveals to studio students his own graceful talent as developed in his youth and the beauty of the dance for anyone who loves it. Digital painted art effectively represents the culture of India through the text and backgrounds of art within the home. Cartoon children of many races are highlighted within the studio and on the city street where backgrounds reveal a Black Lives Matter logo on a truck and a rainbow LGBTQIA+ flag flying on a side street. The book includes a pronunciation guide to Tamil words used in text, and a note on history of the dance form.
VERDICT A general purchase for most libraries, this is a lyrical message in support of family relationships, resisting peer pressure, and following one’s inner call to art.

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