Karina the Dancer


Darshana Khiani


Picture Book

Word Count:

650 words


Free-spirited Karina wants to be a dancer like her older sister, so she signs up for Indian classical dance. But her colorful attire, bopping moves, and improvisations land her in hot water with Guruji, the teacher. Karina learns that to be a dancer, she only needs to follow her inner beat.

KARINA THE DANCER is a 650 – word picture book for children ages 4-8 that celebrates individuality through Indian dance. Please find my manuscript pasted below.

I’m a 2nd generation American of South Asian descent. I am an SCBWI member and have been a judge for the Cybils Book Awards in 2011 and 2012. I’ve completed a picture book mentorship with Kathi Appelt. I run a children’s book review blog, Flowering Minds, and assist with curating books for the Stratford Schools (Pre-school-8th grade, 16 campuses). In addition, I participate in critique groups and online writing challenges like 12×12 and PiBoIdMo.

First 300 words:

I love to dance.

While walking to school.

Waiting in line.

Even during chores (maybe not).


My sister, Didi, and I practice dance every afternoon.

Didi is a classical dancer.

She’s a graceful peacock with her stomp-stomp-pose.

I’m a zippy butterfly with my flip-flap-twirl.

“You sure you want to start classical dance?” asks Didi. “Guruji is very strict.”

“I want to be a dancer like you,” I reply and plop into a pose.


Finally, my first dance lesson.

I wear a plain salwaar kameez. But it needs some sparkle.

Rainbow bangles,

jingly anklets, and

my favorite flower hairclip. That’s more like it.

Dancing is more fun with a spinny skirt.


But, when I get to class …


“The first rule of classical dance is proper attire,” says Guruji.

She taps her bare ankles and wrists. “No jingly jewelry.”

She swings her braid forward. “Hair should be tied up.”

She points to her clothes. “A plain salwaar kameez.”

Oh, tumbletoes. Now my outfit is no fun.


  • Brent Taylor says:

    Although I don’t love to dance, I would love to read this! Please send the manuscript as a Microsoft word doc to brent [at] triadaus [dot] com.

  • Rachel Stark says:

    I would really like to read this on submission. You do not need an agent to submit to me; feel free to send your query and your manuscript (as a Word doc) to me at rstark[at]skyhorsepublishing[dot]com. Please include “WCNV Request” in the subject line.

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