Author and Artist: Nidhi Chanani
Publisher: First Second (2021)
Age Rating: Ages 7+
I have been excited for Jukebox since I read Pashmina from Nidhi a few years back. You can read my review of Pashmina here.
Jukebox is the story of 12-year-old Shaheen and her slightly older cousin Tannaz as they attempt to find Shaheen’s dad using using records and a magical, time-machine jukebox.
And while the story has a few holes, that I won’t spoil in fear of ruining the ending, the premise and what could happen in your classroom is well beyond the issues I have.
Here’s the cool stuff!
Shaheen and Tannaz put on records, and they are transported back to a time when that music made an impact on the world. So as the girls search for Shaheen’s father, we transport to different settings throughout this nation’s history.
James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and Bessie Smith albums lead the charge as we navigate some rough and not so rough waters that this nation’s history has left in its wake.
While reading, my mind immediately went to my music collection and where I’d like to go first. What I’d like to see and learn. This book opens those discussions, for music comes from a place and takes us to places.
Much of the music our students listen to comes from a social and/or emotional place. Having those discussions with students helps us build bridges into their lives.
But what about those younger students that don’t connect to the deeper levels of music because they are too young or have yet to think of music as a means of social art? I see this book as an introduction to a research project. Research an album or an artist and tell us about the context in which it was created. Use this book as a jumping off point! Interview relatives or family friends for ideas…music that made an impact on those around them.
Maybe it’s not a paper. Maybe the research project is a multi-media presentation or a speech with some audio. Maybe even a field trip to a record store is in order? And I don’t even like records…but this has me excited.
Nidhi’s art and panel designs are great, as always. The pages are open and inviting, and there is never any question as to what is going on in each panel. It is a colorful, unique story that is great for readers new to the graphic novel medium or old pros. Because what this book does well is not in the actual storytelling but in the doors it opens for readers.
My educational collective recently put out a YouTube panel video discussing the connection between comics and music. That video can be found here. We need to get Nidhi Chanani in on the next music/comics panel because this book was made for that discussion!
Happy reading and teaching! Now go get this book, and let me know what you think!