KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING: Coming of Age; Talent; Friendship; Courage.
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS: Trustworthiness; Respect; Responsibility; Caring.
AT A GLANCE: Age: 5 – 8; MPAA Rating — G; Animated; 1989; 103 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com.
Created by legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, this delightful movie is set in a mythical Japan of the early 20th century. Kiki, the heroine, is a winsome 13-year-old witch. According to the customs of her witch-world, Kiki must leave home for a year and find her own way. And so, along with her wisecracking cat Jiji, Kiki takes off on her broomstick, ending up in a small seaside town. There, after many adventures, Kiki finds her niche.
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” tells a sweet, upbeat, and charming story. Kids will watch a girl growing up and learning from her surroundings. Kiki’s ingenuity, goofiness, responsibility, courage and kindness make her a great role model. This story reassures children that even when the going gets tough, if you believe in yourself, treat others with respect and kindness, and persevere, you will see your way through.
custom, fortune telling, broomstick, newcomer, clock tower, first impression, delivery, bakery, concentrate, dirigible.
TALKING FOR VERBAL, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Which character was your favorite? — If you could have any of the characters in the movie as a friend, which would you choose? — Why is that?
→ Always encourage your child to form opinions and to share them.
→ Open-ended questions will help get a discussion going.
Do you have any good friends like Jiji, Tombo or Ursula?
What did you like about Kiki?
→ Just talking with your child fosters verbal, social and emotional learning.
→ Exercise memory skills by asking about the story, the characters, and the plot. Keep it light and fun.
What would it be like to fly on a broomstick like Kiki?
→ Young children love Story Time.
DISCUSSIONS BASED ON THEMES IN THE MOVIE
Select questions appropriate for your child.
1. Instruct your child to turn around, and pretend that the two of you have never met. When your child turns back around, put a big angry frown on your face. Say “Hi, nice to meet you” in a grumpy, sarcastic voice, frowning and not making eye contact. Then have your child turn around again and this time, when he or she turns to face you, smile broadly, make eye contact, take his or her hand and say the same words in a friendly, sincere voice. Then ask, why do you think that Kiki told Jiji to “smile” when they first met the people in the new town? Talking About It — Here are some other points to make. Ask your child if he or she would rather be friends with the first or second person. Talk about how a “first impression” is important, and how smiling and being friendly can really make someone happy to be around you. Kiki told Jiji to smile because they were strangers in a new place with no friends, and they wanted people to know that they were polite and friendly. Could she have made friends with the baker’s wife if she had been acting grumpy?
→ When a parent takes a concept from the movie seriously, a child will start thinking about the lessons of the film. Often, it only takes one comment to start a child’s mind going.
2. If a new family has moved to the neighborhood, or a new child has started to attend your child’s school, brainstorm ways to make the change more comfortable. Talking About It — The most important thing is to include that child in games and be friendly. Maybe you can bake some easy goodies for the child. Rice cereal bars, brownies, cookies – it will all be appreciated by the stressed out family! If the family has children close in age to your own, offer to have a “tour day”, where you and your family show the new family around town, and maybe have dinner together. Tell your child that if he or she meets someone in school who is new, to be friendly and kind. Invite him or her to sit with you at lunch or snack time. Share toys together. It’s just using the Golden Rule.
→ Here is a modern formulation of the Rule. Have your child memorize this or another version. Repeat it to your child often when a decision about how to act must be made: “In every situation, act toward others in the same way that you would want others to act toward you.” Show your child how to apply it in his or her own life. Let your child see you apply the Rule in decisions that you make.
3. If you have just moved to a new neighborhood or your child has changed schools recently, ask your child to brainstorm with you ways of being comfortable in the new surroundings. Think of the way that Kiki learned to live in her new town. Talking About It — When we move somewhere new, it can be kind of scary to think about making new friends. Smiling, acting friendly, joining games, all can help someone fit in. Remind your child to smile, and act friendly. It’s okay to feel nervous and scared, but the people in their new school want to make friends, too. Try to find kids with similar interests: if your child sees a group of kids play soccer at recess, and they really love soccer, encourage your child to approach the kids and ask to join. Make a list of techniques your child used (they could be anything from “being brave” or “staying by the teacher/counselor” to “talking to one new person a day”). Feel free to share your own personal experiences with your child, telling them stories about times you moved, started a new school or went away to summer camp. If your family is approaching a change, this would be a good time to come up with a plan of attack to make your child feel more comfortable and facilitate an easy transition. And remind your child that everyone, even adults, feels nervous in new situations. So take the advice of Kiki: put on a smile and make some friends!
→ You can talk about a movie at any time: right after it is over, in the car on the way to school, during quiet time, or before bed.
4. What are some ways that we can learn and grow by visiting new places and doing new things? Talking About It — Talk about how we learn and grow by exploring the world around us: we learn about nature by going outside, we learn about friendships by playing with friends, we learn about animal life by taking care of pets. Kiki learned all about her new world, and also about how to be a better witch, by being brave, cheerful and kind.
→ Don’t feel obligated to cover everything in this Guide. One or two questions are all that some children will tolerate. However, if your child watches the movie more than once, on each occasion start a new conversation or pick a new activity. This will enhance verbal development and increase the number of lessons your child takes from the film.
PLAYING FOR GROWTH
1. Kiki’s Delivery Challenge — Have your child race to deliver all of the “packages” on time! Gather up a few small items (like stuffed animals, pillows, etc) and put them in one location. Prepare some clues ahead of time about where certain items should be delivered (for example, “I go on your bed and under your head” – pillow, bed; “I stay where we play and I see you everyday” – stuffed animal, playroom; “I like the outdoors, day and night, if you leave me outside, I’ll be alright” – ball, backyard). If your child can read, have him or her select an item to deliver and read the clue. If your child cannot read yet, you can read the clue. Keep time for how long it takes for your child to figure out the clue, deliver the item to the right place and return back to you. Broomstick optional!
2. A Sweet Surprise — One of the best times to receive a letter or a package is when you weren’t expecting one. Kiki helped deliver lots of fun packages and presents, and she even helped bake for her customers! With your child, bake some cookies or brownies. You can even have your child cut the dough into shapes like hearts or gingerbread men. Working together, put a couple treats into a plastic bag and attach a small “To/From” note. Load up your presents in a big bag and walk around your neighborhood, delivering them to neighbors and friends, and watch as everyone’s faces light up with delight!
3. Make-a-Witch — You and your child can create your very own Kiki! Trace your child’s outline on a large piece of butcher paper, cardboard, or outside with chalk on a sidewalk. After cutting out or drawing the figure, work with your child to color it in, adding witch-y touches. You can make a wand out of a twig, or you can cut a piece of cardboard into a thin rectangle. Make a witch’s hat by cutting a large piece of construction paper into one triangle, and adding a thick rectangular brim on the bottom. Tape or glue these pieces to your outline (which you can put onto a fence, garage door, playroom wall, bedroom door, etc) or, instead of a pointy hat, you could add a red bow- just like Kiki!
Stories are essential tools for verbal development, social-emotional learning, and character education. Intentional parents can use family movies as a basis for storytelling.
Repeat the story of the movie at bedtime, on a rainy day, or at any quiet time. Let your child correct you if you make a mistake and, better yet, encourage your child to tell you the story. Both of you can invent new adventures for Kiki, Jiji, Tombo and Ursula. The incidents in your stories should explore the themes of the movie.
Here is a bedtime story about that you can read to your child that expands upon some of the themes of the movie.
One summer’s day, not too long ago, a young Japanese girl named Seiko made her way to a brand new town. Seiko looked like a typical Japanese girl, but she wasn’t. Seiko was a witch; a good kind of witch who never harmed anyone. The young girl approached her new hometown a little differently than most people. She rode on a yellow broomstick wearing a yellow dress with everything else that she owned stuffed into her backpack.
Seiko’s specialty was flying with her broomstick, which her mother had painted bright yellow to match Seiko’s favorite dress. When most kids were learning to walk, Seiko was also learning to fly her broomstick. Within a few years, she could do loops, spins and somersaults. Seiko loved the color yellow and she always had at least one yellow dress. Whizzing around the sky on her yellow broomstick in her yellow dress, Seiko looked as if she was related to the sun.
At age 13, as part of growing up, Seiko was required to find a new town to live in. All witches had to do this and Seiko had been planning for months. She had a notebook full of ideas and brainstorms. Seiko knew that living on her own meant having more responsibilities and that she’d have to pay her own expenses. She also knew that a good way to get money would be to find work that put her talents and skills to use.
Now Seiko was luckier than most new witches. Her new hometown was filled with lush gardens and stunning waterfalls. More importantly, her cousin Toshiro and her aunt and uncle lived there.
Even though Toshiro was just a normal human and couldn’t cast spells or ride a broom, he and Seiko were good friends. Every summer, Toshiro and his parents visited Seiko’s family and Seiko and Toshiro had been pen pals for many years. While Seiko had never visited Toshiro’s house, he had described it to her many times. His parents were very smart and had many books in their house, in all sorts of languages. Seiko called their house “the library”, which everyone thought was very funny.
When she first came to the new town, Seiko stayed with her aunt, uncle and Toshiro. But they all knew that in order to complete her growing up, Seiko would have to move out on her own. She picked out neighborhoods where she would like to live and flew through them looking for places available to rent. Seiko eventually found a small room above the town library. It was love at first sight… the walls were painted a bright yellow! On top of that, it was a great room, cozy and cheerful. But the best part was the view: the window looked onto a waterfall!
Seiko was beyond excited and ready to move in, but then the landlord said that she would have to pay a deposit before he could give her the apartment. Seiko hadn’t planned for this! She had thought the landlord would let her move in and pay later. “Okay,” she said as she squirmed about. She chewed on her lip. “If you could, please hold the room for me for just a few weeks. I will get the money by then! I promise!”
The landlord, amused by Seiko’s excitement, agreed. “After all,” he said, “I can’t think of anybody more perfect than you. Your dress and your broom match the place already!”
Seiko stuck out her hand to give him a firm handshake. She looked right into his eyes and said, in a stern voice, “It’s a deal!” Then they both started to laugh.
Over dinner, Seiko explained her problem to her aunt and uncle. She wasn’t expecting them to offer her money, but she was hoping that they could help her come up with a plan to earn money. She figured there had to be something that could help her in all of those books they had read.
“Perhaps,” said her aunt, in between slurps of soup, “you and Toshiro can think up an idea for a business for the two of you. Just think about each of your strengths. Toshiro is great at math, and could be your accountant and manage the business. Seiko, you have an unusual skill for our town: flying. Figure out a way to put them together. Twice the brain power could mean more than twice the money!”
Seiko and Toshiro talked about this long after dinner was finished. They agreed to create a brand new business together, something that both of them would enjoy doing. They made a long list of ideas and things they liked to do and put them all in Seiko’s notebook. Some they had to cross off. Even though they both liked licorice, the smell of pineapple, and riding on elephants, there wasn’t much they could do with those! Finally they were left with newspaper delivery, flying lessons, and sky shows.
The next day, Seiko and Toshiro sat in a park all afternoon, hunched over Seiko’s notebook, trying to decide which idea would be the best. While they’d gotten their list down to three things, they couldn’t decide which one to choose. Finally, Seiko said, “Hey! Why don’t we just combine them all? We can be a touring, teaching, newspaper-ing company!”
Toshiro sat up and grinned, “Sure, that sounds great! And I bet we’ll get more customers that way!” Seiko agreed. The two began to write up a list of all of the things they would need to start their business. They decided that Seiko would be in charge of all the flying and everything having to do with a broomstick, and Toshiro would take care of the money and helping customers on the ground.
They stayed at the park until sunset, sketching out designs for a flyer. Of course, the color of the flyer was never a question — it had to be yellow!
Toshiro’s parents gave permission for Seiko and Toshiro to set up a small booth on the front lawn of their house. There they could take orders and customers could come to ask questions. Seiko designed stationery, business cards and flyers. Toshiro then negotiated a good price to get them printed. By early the next week, they had put flyers all over town, announcing the arrival of “Seiko and Toshiro’s World of Flight”. They were ready for business.
But then, no customers came to their booth. After waiting a day, Seiko and Toshiro decided to go and find customers. They told everyone who would listen about their new company. “We’ll deliver your newspaper, give you flying lessons in the yard, and then perform some tricks in the sky,” they would explain. They even stopped passersby on the street. “Imagine getting your newspaper delivered by a girl on a broomstick,” Seiko said to one man as she waved her stack of flyers in his face.
The man shooed her away with his newspaper. “Yes, yes, I understand,” he said, “but I already have someone delivering my paper. And I don’t really care if it comes by broomstick!”
They tried to get new customers until it was dark. And then they tried again all the next day. And the next day, but nobody was interested in “Seiko and Toshiro’s World of Flight!” By then, most of their flyers had blown away in the wind or had been taken down. Those that were still up weren’t even bright yellow anymore; they had faded and you couldn’t read the writing on them.
That evening, Toshiro and Seiko met in a park to plan for the next day. Toshiro was so upset that he put his head down and stared at his hands. Seiko saw one of their faded flyers on the ground, and rubbed it into the dirt with her shoe. “Aw, who cares anyway?” she said. “This was a stupid idea. We’re wasting our time. Let’s just forget about our dumb plan.” She folded her arms and plopped down on a bench.
(You might want to pause here and ask your child what he or she thinks about the way Seiko is acting. Is she right that they should give up or should they keep trying? What would you do?)
Toshiro looked sad. “We can’t be that quick to give up, Seiko. We’ll think of something else . . . something better. We just have to give it another try.” He made an attempt to sound cheerful, even though he wasn’t. Seiko didn’t say anything. She just picked broken straws from her broomstick and sighed.
Toshiro realized that Seiko wanted to be alone for a while. He said, “Well, I guess I’m going to head back home for dinner. Don’t stay out too late, Seiko, my mom will be waiting for you.”
“I won’t. I’ll be at your house in just a little while,” said Seiko sadly.
Seiko carefully stowed her yellow broom beneath the bench. She watched other children and their parents play. It was a perfect day, with no clouds in the sky. Even though Seiko was frustrated, she couldn’t help but feel relaxed by the gentle breeze and soothing whoosh of the park’s waterfall. The cherry blossoms were almost in full bloom; their sweet, light smell drifted through the air.
There were a few unfamiliar faces at the park that day. Most of the people were taking pictures of the waterfall or splashing in its clear water. Seiko realized they were probably tourists. Their colorful swimsuits dotted the blue water. It was almost like a painting. “Everybody loves that waterfall,” the young witch thought to herself.
For the last week, Seiko had worked hard, spending all day and many of the nights trying to set up the new business. She yawned and, as she covered her mouth with her hand, Seiko realized that she was very tired. “I think I’ll take a little nap,” she said. As Seiko was just about to drift off to sleep, she overheard an older lady in a banana yellow swimsuit exclaim, “Oh, I just wish we could see this amazing view from above!”
Seiko’s eyes popped open. She blinked. She couldn’t believe that she and Toshiro hadn’t thought of this! She yanked her yellow broom out from under the bench and took off for Toshiro’s house.
“Toshiro! Toshiro!” Seiko called as she burst into her aunt and uncle’s house.
Toshiro was sitting at the dinner table with a napkin in his hand and tomato sauce dripping down his chin. He said, “What’s wrong? What is it?”
Seiko grinned, “I’ve got it! I’ve got an idea for our new company!” She whipped out her notebook and told Toshiro of her plan as she wrote a new list of things they had to do.
Pretty soon, Toshiro was so excited that he got up from the table and started screaming. “Mom and Dad, come and listen to Seiko’s new idea! It’s going to work. I know it! It’s going to work!”
The next morning, the two cousins started to pass out new yellow flyers all over town. The lady from the park that Seiko had seen the day before was walking down the street taking pictures. Seiko proudly marched up to her and handed her a flyer. “Seiko and Toshiro’s Flying Tours,” the woman read, “‘Fly like the birds as you soar over town. Sights from the sky and an adventurous time!’ The lady said, “That sounds perfect! I was just talking about this to my niece yesterday. I told her how badly I wanted to see the waterfall from the sky! Where can I sign up?”
Seiko pointed to Toshiro who was carrying a yellow clipboard. “You’d better hurry,” he called, “we’re almost full for the next week!”
That night, Seiko invited Toshiro over to her brand new room. The landlord, impressed by Seiko’s determination and the pair’s creativity, had given her some ice cream as a welcome gift along with a set of yellow bowls and spoons to use while she rented the apartment. Seiko and Toshiro shared the ice cream in celebration of their first day in their new business. They had just finished designing a special contraption that hooked onto Seiko’s broom, allowing her to tow up to four people behind her. Toshiro’s dad had even agreed to help build it.
“With your flying and my planning, we’re really going to take off,” Toshiro laughed, “I mean, we’re going to do really well!”
Seiko nodded, tasting the sweet smooth ice cream in her mouth. “I’m so glad that we didn’t give up, and that you helped me to keep a good attitude about it. All we needed to do was change our idea just a little bit.” She held up a spoonful of ice cream. “To Seiko and Toshiro!” she said.
Toshiro scooped up some ice cream and raised his spoon, “To us! And to working together . . . the sky’s the limit!”
They both laughed and finished their ice cream. They gazed at the beautiful waterfall cast in a calm yellow glow by the sunset, and excitedly planned for tomorrow’s flying tours.
BRIDGES TO READING
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is based on a book of the same name by Eiko Kadono, which is available at Amazon.com. Reading books to your child, or with your child, improves language and reading skills, and expands imagination.