Gigi and Ojiji: What's in a Name? (I Can Read! Level 3: Reading Alone)

by Melissa Iwai (Author) Melissa Iwai (Illustrator)

Gigi and Ojiji: What's in a Name? (I Can Read! Level 3: Reading Alone)

Gigi wants to go by something besides her baby name--but her full name, Geraldine, is too long to write and Hanako, her middle name, doesn't feel quite right. Will Gigi find the perfect name?

This exciting new I Can Read series is brought to you by author-illustrator Melissa Iwai, whose popular books include Soup Day and Dumplings for Lili.

Gigi and Ojiji: What's In a Name? is a Level Three I Can Read book. Level 3 includes many fun subjects kids love to read about on their own. Themes include friendship, adventure, historical fiction, and science. Level 3 books are written for early independent readers. They include some challenging words and more complex themes and stories. The story contains several Japanese words and a glossary of definitions.

Praise for Gigi and Ojiji:

"Gigi crafts her Japanese American identity in this -enchanting early reader. The cuteness, inclusivity, and cross-cultural problem-solving represented will have young -readers coming back again and again. A must-buy." --School Library Journal (starred review)

"The text is well supported by the endearing illustrations, which capture all of Gigi's big emotions and depict her as a biracial child, with a white father and Japanese mother." --Booklist (starred review)

"An affirming option in the quickly diversifying field of early-reader books." --Kirkus

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Kirkus Reviews

A quick yet meaningful exploration of the relationship between names and identity.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

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.--Jamie Winchell

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Melissa Iwai
Melissa Iwai has illustrated many children's books, including Toolbox Twins, B Is for Bulldozer, and Good Night Engines. Soup Day is the first book she has both written and illustrated. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and young son, Jamie (who loves to cook with his mom!).
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
January 20, 2023
I Can Read! Level 3: Reading Alone
BISAC categories
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV030020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | Asia
JUV043000 - Juvenile Fiction | Readers | Beginner
JUV074000 - Juvenile Fiction | Diversity & Multicultural
Library of Congress categories

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