cover image Pashmina


Nidhi Chanani. First Second, $16.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-62672-087-9

Priyanka is the teenage daughter of a single mother from Calcutta who won’t answer her questions about why she came to the U.S. or who Priyanka’s father is. “In India I would never talk this rude way to my mom,” Priyanka’s mother chastises. Mean girls make school rough; drawing is Priyanka’s only solace. A silk pashmina in her mother’s closet gives Priyanka the ability to see India, the homeland she’s never visited, in sequences that explode with vibrant color, in contrast to the dark purples Chanani uses for Priyanki’s everyday life. When she’s finally able to travel there, her aunt answers the questions that have blighted Priyanka’s relationship with her mother, and the pashmina gives her a mission. Newcomer Chanani’s figures lean toward cuteness, softening the story’s darker moments. Most impressive is the way Chanani keeps the story’s distinct and fascinating plot elements spinning. One work can’t represent a whole subcontinent, but readers will come away with a living sense of a small part of it—and characters to care about. Ages 10–14. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Oct.)