Tokyo Ever After: A Novel by Emiko Jean has been climbing the charts as one of the most popular books right now for young adults. With Netflix’s “The Crown” and Katharine McGee’s American Royals being the rage, this book has emerged among them successfully. 


The character of Izumi, or Izzy, is introduced as a Japanese American living in Northern California raised by a single mother. Then Izzy finds out her father is the Crowned Prince of Japan, and that her life could be a bit (or a lot) fancier in Japan compared to her life in California since she’s a princess in Japan. As she travels to Japan to see the father she’s never met and become royalty, she is stuck between being the Northern California, non-royal Izzy, and the sparkly princess she is on the other side of the world. 


Characterization is important when throwing a main character for a loop in their identity. As an author of a book like this, Emiko Jean does a great job showing Izzy’s struggle to figure out how to navigate both identities and worlds. Character development throughout the entire story is integral, and having students track that complexity of Izzy is a great use of a graphic organizer as you read. 


In the excerpt below, Izzy is spending a day with her father, the Crowned Prince of Japan, and talking about his past and the planned activities and training Izzy will have while she’s there.


The light disappears under the arching trees, giving us shade. My burning head screams in relief. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity to learn.” Sometimes when I speak with my father, I don’t sound like myself. It’s not the same tone I’d use with my mom. If I were with her, we’d be knee-deep in potty humor. Or at least, I would be. I know she secretly loves it, though. She’s a closet deviant. You kind of have to be, living next door to Jones. (102)


Mini Lesson

  • Taking the example from the passage above, start a T-chart about Izzy’s two identities: her Northern California self, and her Japanese princess self. Write examples of when you see both of them. Write down traits she holds for both too. See a suggested table below.

Northern California Izzy

Japanese Princess Izzy

  • Able to talk freely and with humor to her mom.
  • Calls her mother, mom (informal language).


  • Feels like she needs to be formal when talking to her father.
  • Calls her father, father (proper language).



  • After the list is complete, or you’ve read a chunk of the book, have students write an analysis paragraph about Izzy’s character development from beginning to the end, or to whatever point in the book you are at. Consider using the outline below to structure the analysis paragraph. Feel free to adjust it for your school’s expected rigor.
          1. Claim 
  1. Text Evidence #1 (from beginning third of book)
  2. Reasoning #1
  3. Text Evidence #2 (from middle of the book)
  4. Reasoning #2
  5. Text Evidence #3 (from the end of the book)
  6. Reasoning #3
  7. Conclusion

Sentence Frames for Paragraph

In the book Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean, the main character Izzy develops from ____________________ at the beginning to __________________ at the end. In the text it says, “______________________________________________” (author’s last name/page number). This shows how Izzy is like ______________ because ______________________________________________________________. Towards the middle, we see Izzy change a little like ___________________________. The text says, “____________________________________________” (author’s last name/page number). This demonstrates her development in _____________ way because __________________________. At the end, Izzy is seen acting like ____________________________________. The text says, “_______________________________________” (author’s last name/page number). This shows her changing because ___________________________________. As you can see, the character of Izzy in Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean changes from being ___________ to ______________________ by the end.





Jennifer Epping is a high school English and journalism teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. She has a passion for reading, writing, and making lame jokes to her students just to see them laugh or roll their eyes. She just concluded her ninth year teaching. Epping graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in journalism and mass communication (2010) and BA in English Education (2013). She attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute (2010), and spent some time in children’s book publishing in New York