Dominique Valente: Starfell Willow Moss and the Lost Day (HarperCollins Publishers 2019)
Eiko Kadono: Kiki’s Delivery Service (originally published in Japan in 1985)
Julie Abe: Eva Evergreen – Semi-Magical Witch (Little, Brown and Company 2020)
I recommend the following books to everyone, but especially to the girls because these are kind and exciting stories, and because we can get to know very interesting girl characters in them.
You’ve already read a lot about Dominique Valente Starfell’s series on BogiWrites (you can check out the previous posts here and here) as this is my favourite middle grade novel. The story is an ode to imperfection. The protagonist, Willow, was always considered a bit odd by her surroundings and she also felt like an outsider with her more magical family. However, this adventure shows that what matters is not what her ability is, but what she does with it.
The most famous work of Japanese writer Eiko Kadono is the Kiki’s Delivery Service, from which Hayao Miyazaki made a successful animated film. The story is about Kiki, the little witch, who has to spend a year in a city where she must not only thrive on her own, but also benefit the city. Kiki has only one ability, so she has to use her mind to do her job. This is and extraordinary story: very kind and touching, and shows that although Kiki is a witch, she has the same problems as other ordinary girls: how can she find her place in the world. There is 5 sequels of the novel, but unfortunately they are not available in English.
The beginning of Eva Evergreen’s story is very similar to Kiki’s: Eva has to spend a lunar month in a city to become a pupil from a witch apprentice. The problem is that Eva only has a pinch of magic, which runs out very quickly and when this happens the little girl falls asleep. How will she be able to complete the quest? Although many people don’t believe in her, Eva shows that she can defend the city with that pinch of magic on her own. The story is also very “Japanese” (names, illustrations), but that’s no coincidence: the American writer spent many of her summers in Japan. The sequel of the novel was published this year.
The lesson of the stories is that if we have an ability that we are good at, that we love very much, then we have found the magic that lies within us.