Kiki’s Delivery Service

by | Jan 23, 2021 | Book Review, Fiction

Kiki's delivery service cover

Book Details

Kiki’s Delivery Service
Eiko Kadono, illus. Joe Todd Stanton. London: Penguin Random House, hb 978 0 2414 4945 6, 2020, £10.99, 208pp.
Fiction, 8-11 years

Kiki has just turned twelve. It is time for her to leave home because as a young witch that is the custom; she must find her own town to be part of. Kiki cannot wait.

She is so tired of her parent’s – or rather, her mother’s restrictions. It doesn’t matter that her only magic lies in her ability to fly. So Kiki with her cat Jiji set off. Will she manage on her own? What is in store for her?

Eiko Kadono is well known in her native Japan; her stories about Kiki first published in 1985 have been turned into a popular animated film series. In 2018, she won the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Now, at last, Kiki has been brought to the UK in a new translation – sadly the translator has not been acknowledged in the credits – to enchant a new audience. Kiki may be twelve but these stories are ideal for young readers of primary school age; indeed, younger children would enjoy them, especially if read aloud. Kiki is a lively character and her adventures are rooted in the everyday. It is this that makes them so attractive. The problems Kiki faces just require commonsense, kindness, and certainly independence for their solutions.

The translation is seamless and direct. Description, though not avoided, is concise and dialogue is brisk; an ideal text for young readers looking for a solid satisfying story. The illustrations by Joe Todd Stanton capture the charm of the narrative punctuating the narrative with both full-page illustrations and decorative details; all appropriately in black and white. Translations do not always fare well, but here is a character who deserves to find a  place beside Pippi Longstocking and Mrs Pepperpot.

Review by FMH

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