By Eiko Kadono
Recommended for grades 5+
This month’s book is a perfect way to get into the Fall/Halloween season, without having to scare yourself with the latest horror-thriller release. Our October selection features a young half-witch and loyal black cat sidekick with a story that may be familiar to you. Whether you are fans of the Miyazaki animated film, or a newcomer, Kiki’s Delivery Service is a modern classic suitable for all ages.
First released in the original Japanese in 1985 and titled Majo no Takkyūbin, this story was created and written by Eiko Kadono. She is a Japanese author, born in Tokyo. At the age of 25, she began her post-college career with a move to Brazil for two years, during which she wrote a nonfiction story titled Brazil and My Friend Luizinho. Along with this story, most of Kadono’s work are books for children, but they appeal to a much wider audience as well. In Kiki’s Delivery Service, Kadono’s writing is brought to life with illustrations from Akiko Hayashi.
This fantasy novel follows Kiki as she reaches her 13th birthday– a crucial milestone in a witch’s life. On this day, per tradition, she must choose a new town to move to for a year. Seems simple enough...but Kiki must take on this new home alone, her parents staying behind. Kiki arrives in the seaside town of Koriko feeling confident and ready to handle her newfound independence. However, the locals are not so trusting of this new addition to their community and the magical powers she brings with her. With the help of her cat, Jiji, our protagonist must learn how to build trust despite differences and persevere despite roadblocks.
The reading level is best suited for grades 5-6, though the story can entice middle schoolers as well. Through watching Kiki’s journey as a protagonist, readers will see an example of a young person rising to the challenge before them and developing into a responsible young adult. We hope students who choose to pick up this book will feel inspired by the example of independence and resilience set by Kiki. After you finish the book, don’t forget to check out the film!