Music is the great language that all people share. When music speaks to our souls, it connects us, inspires us, and helps reveal who we are to the world. Writer/artist Nidhi Chanani (Pashmina, Jasmine’s New Pet) captures the magic and mystery of music in her new book Jukebox, which drops next year from First Second. The Beat is excited to share an exclusive excerpt and cover reveal!
Here’s how First Second describes Jukebox:

A mysterious jukebox, old vinyl records, and cryptic notes on music history, are Shaheen’s only clues to her father’s abrupt disappearance. She looks to her cousin, Tannaz, who seems just as perplexed, before they both turn to the jukebox which starts…glowing?

Suddenly, the girls are pulled from their era and transported to another time! Keyed to the music on the record, the jukebox sends them through decade after decade of music history, from political marches, to landmark concerts. But can they find Shaheen’s dad before the music stops? This time-bending magical mystery tour invites readers to take the ride of their lives for a coming-of-age adventure.

Before The Beat reveals the cover, I interviewed Chanani about the book and what readers will be able to expect before the book’s release next summer.

AJ FROST: Can you tell me where the inspiration for Jukebox came from? What excited you most about the possibilities with this book?  
NIDHI CHANANI: I’m excited about sharing the story with readers! I remember the exact moment that inspired Jukebox. I was talking about music and vinyl records with my husband. He’s a vinyl collector and these conversations are common in our house but that evening it was different. We talked about why Jukeboxes that play full-length albums aren’t common. It sparked an image and I ran to draw two girls discovering a giant Jukebox in an attic. I rarely break a conversation to draw an idea. That was 2014.

FROST: In the introduction, you dive deep into America’s music history with a reference to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. What is it about America’s music legacy, including parts that are probably not as well known, that inform the thrust of your story?
CHANANI: Music and history are intimately tied. Music has influenced and evolved alongside history. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Again, this is a common conversation within my home but I don’t often come across that in other spaces. I wanted to explore how music informs our lived experiences, our memories, and is an overlooked structure to our narratives.

FROST: Can you tell our readers more about the book’s protagonists Shaheen and her cousin Tannaz? What do you want to tell us about their relationship and the journey they’ll experience throughout the book?
CHANANI: From the inception to the final book, I aimed to tell a story about two brown girls who embark on an adventure and visit history populated by people of color. Shaheen and Tannaz grew up together and know a lot about each other. I grew up with an extended family and I enjoy exploring these very close relationships within a family. I rejected the typical trope of two girls who bicker. Their relationship is loving, supportive and their conflict isn’t with the other person, it’s internal. They each have to learn to believe in themselves and allow the other person to grow.
And they’re sweet girls who like to read and listen to vinyl. As a studious book nerd myself, I adore creating leads who are grounded, first-generation kids.

FROST: Which do you prefer: vinyl or CD?

CHANANI: Vinyl of course! I live in a home with over 1,800 records.

FROST: What are you most excited to share with readers before the book comes out? 

CHANANI: The cover and excerpt here!

And now, without further ado, enjoy the exclusive cover and excerpt reveal of Jukebox, and look for the First Second graphic novel to arrive in stores on June 22, 2021.
More about the author:
Nidhi Chanani was born in Kolkata, India and raised in California. She holds a literature degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She creates illustrations that capture love in everyday moments. In 2012 she was honored by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change. Her illustrations are often featured at Disney Parks. She’s the author of Pashmina, the graphic novel, Shubh Raatri Dost/Good Night Friend, a bilingual board book and illustrator of the picture book I Will Be Fierce. Nidhi draws and dreams in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and kid.