A Dupatta Is… by Marzieh Abbas and Anu Chouhan

Hello, Marzieh Abbas! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you for stopping by to celebrate your debut picture book, A Dupatta Is… 

Marzieh Abbas: Mr. Schu, thank you for hosting the cover reveal for A Dupatta Is…

I love the moment Anu Chouhan’s captures on the cover. What ran through your head (or your heart) the first time you saw the final cover?

Marzieh Abbas: Anu Chouhan’s illustrations are so charming! When I saw the cover I couldn’t believe how well Anu captured the vibe of the text. Like the little girl, the text swings between informing its readers, in an expository fashion, what a dupatta is, and then following up with the refrain: But a dupatta is so much more…

I love that the colors of her clothes are primarily those of the Pakistan flag and how closely she resembles my five-year-old daughter! All a complete coincidence!

When did you know you needed to write A Dupatta Is…?

Marzieh Abbas: I was reading FRY BREAD to my kids for the first time when the idea struck. I had been longing to draft a manuscript about hijab but also wanted it to be a joyous celebration of the dupatta, a traditional shawl worn by South Asian women. The dupatta is sometimes wrapped to cover their heads and sometimes it’s draped across the shoulders.

I fell in love with the structure of FRY BREAD and as I closed the book I scribbled a few headings- most of which are part of the final text.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

A Dupatta Is... so much more than a beautiful piece of fabric.

A dupatta is sound—swooshing and swashing like a superhero cape.

A dupatta is scent—cinnamon and cardamom, crushed coriander and peppermint oil.

A dupatta is fun—playing peekaboo and building cushion forts with dupatta canopies.

The book is an ode to dupattas which are beautiful and colorful of course, but they're also fun, functional, and carry the sounds and smells of family and identity.

There is nothing more fascinating for an author than seeing their words come to life! It truly takes a village to bring a book to shelves. I’m grateful to Anu for her hard work and all the research she did to get every detail right. I’m also incredibly fortunate to have worked with the brilliant team at Feiwel & Friends- many thanks to Emily Settle and Mariam Quraishi and my lovely agent, Lynnette Novak at The Seymour Agency. And last but not least, to all my critique partners and fellow authors, including yourself, Mr. Schu, who help get the word out! The Writing Community has been amazing in helping me become a published author.

Picture books are for everyone! I’ve learnt so much from them over the years and tell everyone they should never stop reading picture books- there’s something in there for everyone!

John Schu, you should have asked me what is next? And then I would’ve told you: I’m working with the same team on another book in the same structure and it’s called Henna Is…

So after Dupatta releases in Winter 2023, Henna Is… releases in Winter 2024.

Congratulations, Marzieh and Anu! 

Raised between the bustling cities of Dubai, UAE and Karachi, Pakistan, Marzieh Abbas loves traveling, baking, reading and samosas. She is the author of several upcoming picture and chapter books, including A Dupatta Is... She is a member of SCBWI, 12x12PB, and a life-long learner. She runs a kidlit review group on Facebook and blogs about her author journey and life in Pakistan. You can visit her on the web at www.marziehabbas.com

Anu Chouhan is a Punjabi Canadian illustrator from Vancouver. She is the illustrator of the graphic novel Aru Shah and the End of Time. Growing up, she always knew she wanted to pursue an artistic career and spent a lot of time learning about animation, while drawing inspiration from video games, fashion, anime, Bollywood movies, and nature. anumation.ca. 

Look for A Dupatta Is... on April 11, 2023. 


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