In Nidhi Chanani’s enchanting Jukebox, a girl travels back in time but connects with the present.
Shaheen discovers the titular machine as she searches for her music-obsessed father, who has gone missing after they had an argument. She has enlisted her cousin, Tannaz, to help her find him, when the pair stumble upon the jukebox in the attic of her father’s favorite record shop and strange things start happening. With the spin of a record, the jukebox takes them on a magical mystery tour, transporting them to the pivotal places and moments in history that reflect the records it plays. They find themselves amid protest marches, epic concerts and more, all fueled by the legendary music of Nina Simone, James Brown, Marvin Gaye and more. Tannaz enjoys the ride, but Shaheen keeps her eyes peeled for her father and the chance to make things right between them.
Author-illustrator Chanani cleverly employs time travel in this middle grade graphic novel, using it to explore themes of family and friendship in what is ultimately a coming-of-age narrative. Her depictions of the power of music to connect us with history are touching.
Chanani’s illustrations are one of the best things about this book. In addition to graphic novels and picture books, Chanani has been a featured artist with Disney Parks, and her playful, colorful style is well suited to the story she tells here. Her characters have exaggeratedly large and expressive eyes, which lend themselves well to portraying emotions. And as you would expect in a book with music at its core, every page is infused with motion and action.
Although the mystery of the jukebox is eventually revealed, it’s clear that Shaheen’s journey is only just beginning. After all, as Stevie Wonder said, “Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories.”