Dancing on the Walls

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Reading Challenge
Author: Shamim Padamsee
Illustrator: Uma Krishnaswamy
Book Review By: S. Valarmathi
Grade: 4

If you like art and folk tales, then you will like Dancing on the Walls by Shamim Padamsee. My mother is an art teacher and so when she saw this book, she bought it for me.

Warli painting is from Maharashtra. It is the art form of the Warli tribes who live in the Sahyadri Hills.  Warli women have been painting this art for thousands of years. No body knows how it started. There are no drawings of Gods and Goddesses. Instead, they have stick people doing actions like cleaning, cooking, dancing. The painting are drawn on the walls of huts using rice flour. It is very bright and beautiful.

In this book, the author makes up her own story about how the warli painting started. Shirvi is a little girl who live in the Sahyadri Hills. Her mother and father went out one day. Shirvi wants to help them by finishing all the work in the house. But there is so much work and she can’t do all of it.  It becomes night and Shirvi worries that the work is not going to be finished.

At that time, she sees shiny, silver people come down from the moon. One of them falls in the river and Shirvi saves the person. The moon people work together and clean Shirvi’s house. When they finish cleaning and washing, the moon people start dancing. One of the moon people plays the flute and the others join hands and dance. Shirvi thinks they are beautiful.

Suddenly, somebody shouted “Who’s there?” The moon people get scared because they don’t want anyone else to see them. They jump and get stuck to the walls of Shirvi’s hut. Her mother and father also come back at that time. They see the moon people on the hut walls and think Shirvi painted them. Everybody likes the paintings and they paint their houses too. That is how the Warli painting started.

What I like about this book is that the paintings are beautiful. It is also a nice way to imagine a story about how a type of painting started. I have seen a lot of Warli work on paper and also on handloom bedsheets.

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