The author who first put delivery witch Kiki on her broomstick has been awarded a great honour for her enduring contributions to children’s literature. The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) recognised Eiko Kadano with the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing, considered equal in prestige to the Nobel Prize in Literature.
We certainly know and love the story of Kiki’s Delivery Service from the Studio Ghibli film adaptation directed by Hayao Miyazaki. But the original novel was published in 1985, winning numerous awards and even catching the attention of Disney, who in 2005 had adaptation plans which never came to fruition.
Spurred on by Kiki’s success, Kadano went on to write several other children’s books including Grandpa’s Soup. IBBY recognise the warmth and power of her writing in their short summary of her achievements upon her win:
There is an ineffable charm, compassion, and élan in the work of this great Japanese author. Whether in her many marvellous and funny picture books, or her great series of novels about the witch Kiki, or her novel set during World War II about a brave girl who must walk through a terrifying tunnel of trees to get to school, Kadono’s books are always surprising, engaging, and empowering. And almost always fun. And always life affirming.
Such glowing praise, and it brilliantly illustrates how deserving Kadono is of this award. As fans of Kiki, we congratulate and thank her for the beautiful stories that show the magic of the human spirit.