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.