Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Pashmina is a magic-infused tale of growing up and learning about family. Its main character is Priyanka Das, a teenager who loves to draw and is somewhat introverted. She tries her best to fit in, urging people to call her "Pri," and attempting to blend into the background as much as possible. She is a talented artist, and one of her teachers keeps encouraging her to enter a cartoon contest with some of her work.
On the home front, Priyanka is troubled because there are many things she does not know about why her life is the way it is. Her mother raises her by herself, and she is strict and somewhat overbearing. Many years ago she moved to California from India, and she refuses to talk about Priyanka's father or life in India, saying that those subjects are closed. One day, after an argument, Priyanka finds a scarf in a suitcase, and when she wraps it around herself she is transported Wizard-of-Oz-style to an idealized and dazzling India, where a bird and an elephant take her on a tour. This circumstance sates her for a little while, but when the opportunity to visit her aunt in India arises, Priyanka takes it, and there she learns much about her mother and the decisions she made.
I enjoyed the back and forth between the "real" and "magic" worlds that happens in the narrative and how the artwork fluctuates from stark black and white to vibrant, fully colored scenes to reflect those shifts in venue. I also thought that the characters and situations were very realistic. This story is a powerful one that I think many readers can relate to. I certainly found much that informed my own experiences as the son of immigrants, even if not from the same place or aided by a magic scarf. If there is any justice in this world, this book will be very popular with the YA crowd.

This book is an impressive debut graphic novel by Nidhi Chanani. She has illustrated children's books in the past, and she speaks about her work on them in this interview. She also was named a Champion of Change by President Obama, which she speaks about here. She speaks about her work on Pashmina in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been full of praise. Kirkus Reviews called it "both a needed contribution and a first-rate adventure tale." Michael Berry wrote that it was "Funny, wise, and moving." In a starred review from School Library Journal Andrea Lipinski concluded, "This dazzling blend of realistic fiction and fantasy is perfect for fans of characters who have to overcome obstacles on their way to growing up."

Pashmini was published by First Second, and they have a preview and much more about it here.

No comments:

Post a Comment