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Debut author Nidhi Chanani is already well-known for her beautiful, love-filled drawings. For many, the transition from illustrator to author can be tough, but in PASHMINA, Chanani proves that she is talented at all levels. Whether you are a graphic novel afficianado or new to the format, PASHMINA is not to be missed.

In PASHMINA, Chanani weaves a tale of family, discovering one's roots and learning to stand up for oneself. Tween Priyanka has a full life complete with things like learning to drive, creating comics, hanging out with her best friend, and bothering her mother. Although Priyanka lives a happy life, she has so many questions about where she came from as she knows nothing about India, where her mother was from. Every time she asks her mother about her father or India, her mother doesn't want to talk about it, so she is left only to her imagination to come up with ways to see India.

One day, however, she discovers a Pashmina scarf inside an old suitcase. When she puts it on, she suddenly has the ability to see a bright and happy India with the help of two guides. Chanani's India is bright, colorful and full of fancy, but there is a shadow lurking around every corner. Although Priyanka's guides tell her to stay away from the shadow, she is more curious than ever before, and the more time she spends in this fantastical India, the more she thinks about seeing the real thing.

"I loved the focus on family and history, the bright, luscious colors and, of course, Priyanka herself. PASHMINA is truly a work of art...."

Through a series of fortunate events, Priyanka finally convinces her mother to let her travel to India to stay with her aunt. Only the India that Priyanka sees when she puts on the Pashmina and the real India that she visits might be drastically different.

I loved Priyanka's character. She is so headstrong and determined, and like any first-generation child of immigrants, she desperately wants to learn about her background. Still, she is a child and is easily swayed by the dreamlike India she encounters when she puts on the magical scarf. In India, Priyanka learns more about her past and tries to track down the original maker of the Pashmina.

The artistic style of PASHMINA has a "Wizard of Oz" feel to it in that the illustrations are black and white in the real world, but colorful in the fantasy India. Although they do not appear on every page, Chanani's colors are gorgeous and full of warmth and life.

Nidhi Chanani’s PASHMINA was not only an exciting read, it was also educational. I was really grateful that the book had a glossary in the back. This can make the story easier to read for all ages --- especially readers who they have an interest in learning about other cultures.

I've taken a real interest in graphic novels in the past year, but I have to say that this is easily one of the best I have ever read. I loved the focus on family and history, the bright, luscious colors and, of course, Priyanka herself. PASHMINA is truly a work of art --- if you are going to read only one graphic novel this year, I urge you to pick up PASHMINA.

Reviewed by Dana Cuadrado on October 30, 2017

by Nidhi Chanani