Gigi and Ojiji: What’s in a Name?

HarperCollins. Jan. 2023. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063208094; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9780063208087.
Gr 1-3–This follow-up to the star-spangled Gigi and Ojiji is similarly nuanced and engaging for newly independent readers. Gigi, a Japanese American girl, lives with her parents and Ojiji, her Japanese grandpa. Gigi learns that her full given name is Geraldine, and that her Japanese name is Hanako. After experimenting with writing and being called these more formal names, Gigi doesn’t recognize the names when they are used to get her attention. Gigi is in a real conundrum, because Hanako is the most easily pronounceable name for Ojiji, and her relationship with her grandfather is important to her. It takes Ojiji’s observation that “Gigi” fits her best for this relatable problem to be solved. Gigi’s problem will resonate with young readers of different ethnicities who have multiple names and will inform readers who have not faced this to understand this cultural difference. The dialogue and inner narration mean readers need to note when conversations are being held aloud and when Gigi is thinking to herself. The adorable images will help readers understand the three to seven lines per page. The image of Ojiji teaching Gigi how to write “Hanako” in Japanese script will be captivating for young readers. A short glossary in the back provides a handy review and invites readers to enjoy the book again. The diversity of the people in public places is a small, but important, aspect of representation.
VERDICT This important book will diversify collections for newly independent readers. A must buy.

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