The Girl Who Did Not Like Her Name (Book) Review
Chloe JonPaul brings young girls a tale of learning to love the name you were given.
What’s a girl to do when she just does not like her name? She can try to change it, of course. Maybe shorten it, or come up with a cute nickname. She could maybe try just using her initials, thereby avoiding the use of the name at all. She could complain about her name to all who would listen. Or…..she can learn about her name, and maybe learn to love it in the process.
Allessandra Theresa Petrucci does not like her name. It is so long, it’s different from the other kids, and it’s hard to write–why it barely even fits on the page. She contemplates changing it to Al-es, but her mother says that won’t work. She considers just using her initials, but her friend says she’ll get teased. Things seem hopeless, until Allessandra Theresa takes a trip to visit her grandmother. Her grandmother (Nonna), teaches Allessandra Theresa all about her great-great grandmother, who was a kind and brave immigrant from Italy, and soon she learns to love – and even be proud of – her unusual name.
The Girl Who Did Not Like Her Name is an illustrated children’s book presented in storybook style. It is intended for kids around ten and up, but I’d personally recommend it for more the seven to ten range. While my kids enjoyed all the illustrations to a point, the amount of text in the book might have lent itself better to a small chapter book, particularly as the book is somewhat set up in chapters anyway. As it is, the large pages packed with text might be intimidating for some young readers, and having chapters to read through rather than the expectation of reading it one sitting would help to break it up a bit for the kids.
One I had with this book is that it seems to need a bit of editing. Some of the portions of the story about Allessandra’s namesake seem a bit out of order, and one portion even repeated itself a bit. Still, it held the attention of my eight and six year old’s through an entire reading of it, and they found the bits of history to be interesting. The Girl Who Did Not Like Her Name covers briefly topics like Ellis Island, the world wars, and the Great Depression, although I did feel those topics could have been expounded on a bit more.
In addition to telling the story of Allessandra Theresa, the book includes some special extras at the end, from a couple of traditional Italian recipes to a listing of popular names. There is also a letter from the author to the kids reading it, which I found to be both sweet and confusing. The author encourages kids to learn about their names, and tells of how she herself did not like her name. But then it goes on to say that she changed her name, from Clotilde to Chloe. That’s an understandable shortening, but not really all that pertinent to a book about loving your name.
The Girl Who Did Not Like Her Name is an interesting story of a girl who hated her name at first, but grows to love it. It has some interesting bits of history from the turn of the century, and some Italian culture thrown in as well. While it isn’t perfect by any means, it is an engaging story that gives kids something to think about when they hear an unusual name.