Gigi and Ojiji: Perfect ­Paper Cranes

­HarperCollins. ­(I Can Read Level 3). May 2024. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063208155; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780063208148.
PreS-Gr 2–Gigi is thrilled for the Japan Day Festival, where she’ll get to eat, watch a parade, and make crafts. Origami holds the most appeal, particularly since Gigi’s beloved grandfather Ojiji will be helping at the booth. Feeling ambitious, Gigi wants to attempt a paper crane. A crane is hard, her mother explains, but encourages her with a Japanese word that means good luck or do your best: “Ganbatte!” Gigi’s confidence suffers a blow when her attempts at a crane don’t go as planned. “One fold at a time,” Ojiji encourages her, and though her crane doesn’t boast the same angular perfection as his, her family reminds her that her greatest accomplishment lies in not having given up. This is a wonderful addition to Iwai’s growing series of early readers centered around the relationship between granddaughter and grandfather, in which Ojiji is treated as a beloved elder from whom Gigi can glean valuable life lessons. Softly colorful, tender illustrations depict Gigi’s multiracial family as they enjoy a spring day together, surrounded by a diverse crew of festivalgoers. A few introductory Japanese words and phrases are seamlessly integrated into the text, then later defined in a glossary. The final pages feature a lesson on making an origami puppy—less daunting than a crane.
VERDICT A cheery, gentle lesson on the importance of “practice makes perfect.”

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