Published by First Second
Summary: Priyanka is struggling at school, where some mean girls make fun of her drawing, and at home, where her single mom refuses to tell her about her father or the family she left behind in India. Pri discovers a pashmina, a scarf her mother brought from home, that transports her to a magical India (shown in color). She’s guided by an elephant and peacock, who show her the beauty of the country, but won’t let her speak with a mysterious shadow who follows them. When Priyanka wins $500 in a comics contest, she convinces her mom to let her visit India, where she stays with her long-lost aunt. In India, the pashmina no longer has magical powers for Pri, but it does for her aunt. The two of them set off on a journey to find out the origins of the magical scarf, and in the process, learn about themselves and their heritage. Priyanka turns her discoveries into a comic book…entitled Pashmina. Includes a glossary of the Indian words used in the story. 176 pages; grades 5-8.
Pros: An enchanting story about finding your voice, with lots of female empowerment woven in. Although the female characters struggle with inequality, they are all optimistic about change. Chanani embraces both the romantic beauty and gritty poverty of India.
Cons: The story unfolded at a somewhat dizzying pace, covering a lot of ground in 176 pages.