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Padma Venkatraman

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Padma Tiruponithura Venkatraman was born in Chennai, a city in southern India. As a young child she developed a keen interest in Mathematics, Sciences and Literature. As a result of the tug-of-war between her passion for the world of numbers and her passion for the world of words, she moved to the United States at the age of nineteen to pursue a graduate degree in oceanography.

She has had varied job experiences as an oceanographer: she was chief scientist on several scientific cruises at the Institute of Meereskunde in Kiel (Germany), a post doctoral researcher at the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, and conducted research in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. She has also worked as the director and mathematics and science teacher of a school in England. Eventually, however, she decided to cut back on her scientific research and devote more time to writing, which is undoubtedly her first love.

The result was her debut novel, Climbing the Stairs (published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Penguin). Set in India in the 1940’s, Climbing the Stairs is the story of Vidya. Vidya’s struggle for personal freedom plays out against the backdrop of World War II and the nonviolent Indian independence movement led by Gandhi.

The joy Padma derived from the process of writing Climbing the Stairs was so immense that she turned to writing full-time (except for teaching an occasional scientific writing course to graduate students or university faculty). Her second novel, Island's End, was released by Penguin-Putnam in 2011. Padma is hard at work on her third novel with her amazing new editor, Nancy Paulsen, who is taking Padma's writing to new heights.

A Time to Dance
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014
ISBN 9780399257100

Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.

Time to Dance

Island's End
Putnam, 2011
ISBN 978-0399250996

From the acclaimed author of Climbing the Stairs comes a fascinating story set on a remote island untouched by time. Uido is ecstatic about becoming her tribe's spiritual leader, but her new position brings her older brother's jealousy and her best friend's mistrust. And looming above these troubles are the recent visits of strangers from the mainland who have little regard for nature or the spirits, and tempt the tribe members with gifts, making them curious about modern life. When Uido's little brother falls deathly ill, she must cross the ocean and seek their help. Having now seen so many new things, will Uido have the strength to believe in herself and the old ways? And will her people trust her to lead them to safety when a catastrophic tsunami threatens? Uido must overcome everyone's doubts, including her own, if she is to keep her people safe and preserve the spirituality that has defined them.

Drawing on firsthand experience from her travels to the Andaman Islands, Padma Venkatraman was inspired to write this story after meeting natives who survived the 2004 tsunami and have been able to preserve their unique way of life. Uido's transformation from a young girl to tribal leader will touch both your heart and mind.

Island's Text

Profiles in Mathematics: Women Mathematicians
Morgan Reynolds, 2009
young adults, ISBN 978-1-59935-091-2

Biographies of female mathematicians with lucid explanations of their work, suitable for young adults.

Women Mathematicians

Climbing the Stairs
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008
young adult, ISBN 978-0399247460
paperback, 2010, ISBN 978-0-14-241490-3

Vidya, a 15-year-old girl, lives in British-occupied India during World War II. When her family is torn apart by an unexpected tragedy, Vidya and her brother are forced to move into an oppressive extended family household, where there are strict rules regarding the roles of women. Vidya finds refuge in her grandfather’s upstairs library, which is forbidden to her, and escapes there daily to find comfort and love. She is secretly befriended by Raman, an unusual man who seem to truly value her for who she is. But when Raman makes it clear that he has more on his mind than friendship and Vidya’s brother makes a shocking choice that her family cannot condone, her life becomes a whirlwind of personal and political complications.

Awards and Recognition
Julia Ward Howe Boston Authors Club Award; ALA/YALSA Best Book of the year; Booklist Editor's Choice for Best Books of the year; New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age; Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice; CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book; Capitol Choices; the ALA/Amelia Bloomer list
; Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the year; Booklinks Best New Book; Booksense Notable; shortlisted for the Maine, Utah, South Carolina, and New Jersey State Choice Awards; named to Pennysylvania School Library Association's Top Forty Reading List; ASTAL RI Book of the Year

A discussion guide is available for this title.
A teaching guide is available for this title.

Climbing the Stairs

The Cleverest Thief
Story Cove/August House, 2008
ISBN 978-087483882-4

When the head of a Buddhist monastery decides to pick a successor, he sends the young monks out to accomplish one task. The monks must each steal something, but they must steal in such a way that no one knows they have stolen. In this original retelling of a folktale from India, the monks learn the truth of the saying, “to thine own self be true.”

Awards and Recognition
Storytelling World Honor Book

Cleverest Thief

Growing Gold
Story Cove/August House, 2008
ISBN 978-0874838602

In this original retelling of a folktale from India, a farmer's three lazy sons don't want to work, they just want to make a lot of gold. When their mother tells them a secret about gold buried in the field, they discover the value of a good day's work.

Growing Gold

Double Stars: The Story of Caroline Herschel
Morgan Reynolds, 2007
young adults, ISBN 978-1-59935-042-4

A biography of the first female professional in astronomy, with sidebars explaining scientific concepts, suitable for young adults.

 Double Stars

The Albertosaurus Mystery:
Philip Currie's Hunt in the Badlands

Houghton-Mifflin, 2008 (2nd edition)
ISBN 978-1-59716-254-8

A nonfiction picture book that invites the reader to join paleontologist Philip Currie, as he hunts for a hidden dinosaur graveyard in the Candian Badlands.

The Albertosaurus Mystery

Mathematwist: Number Tales from Around the World
Tulika Publishers, Chennai, India, 2007
ISBN 978-81-8146-357-9

What could Caesar's general have in common with multiplication? Or a Russian waiter with factorials? A Chinese emperor with Ben Franklin or Albrecht Durer? To find out, read this fun collection of multi-cultural mathematical folktales from around the globe!

A teaching guide is available on the author’s website


The Forbidden Temple: Stories from the Past
Tulika and Spark-India/Orient Longman Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad, India, 2007 (2nd edition)
ISBN 81-88733-32-6

Did Stone Age children have pets? What was it like to go shopping in a big city thousands of years ago? Imagination takes off from carefully researched fact to create ten fascinating stories of children in ancient times, panning India's history from around 3500 BCE onward.

A teaching guide is available on the author’s website

Forbidden Temple

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