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GIGI AND OJIJI by Melissa Iwai


What’s in a Name?

From the Gigi and Ojiji series

by Melissa Iwai ; illustrated by Melissa Iwai

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 2023
ISBN: 978-0-06-320809-4
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Feeling like she’s grown out of her nickname, Gigi tries other names.

One morning at breakfast, Gigi, a biracial child whose mother is Japanese and whose father presents White, asks why her family calls her Gigi when her name is Geraldine. When her mom explains that Geraldine was hard for her to say when she was little, Gigi decides that since she isn’t a baby anymore, she’d like to go by her real name. But her real name is so long to write and hard for Ojiji, her Japanese grandfather, to say. She quickly agrees when he suggests using her much shorter middle name, Hanako. Soon, she realizes Hanako doesn’t feel like her, and she doesn’t know what to do. With the help of Ojiji and her mother, however, Gigi finds the perfect name. This latest in the series following Gigi and her grandfather is a probing look at how names can be a big part of identity and are often rooted in cultural meaning. The colorful cartoon art adds emotion and context that could help readers decipher words. The intergenerational relationship is lovingly portrayed as Gigi and Ojiji draw together; he even teaches her how to write Hanako in Japanese characters. A glossary contains a few Japanese words used in the story but no pronunciation guide.

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

(Early reader. 5-8)