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Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship Book Poster Image
Upbeat pro-tidying tale shows how mess can intrude on fun.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows how being organized, putting things in their place, and getting rid of clutter can give you more room to have fun. The endpapers have a diagram showing a seven-step process of folding a shirt and standing it upright in a drawer. 

Positive Messages

Tidying can be fun if you make it a sorting game. Sometimes things get in the way of friendship. After you tidy up, you have more room to play. If you have too much stuff and you're having trouble deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, decide based on this: "If it sparks joy in your heart, keep it! And if it doesn't, thank it and let it go!" The most important thing is making room for your friend.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jax is a good friend who helps Kiki out by showing how to be tidy and organized. He misses her when they can't play, so he thoughtfully makes her a scrapbook of their friendship. Kiki is messy, but she's open to learning how to be tidy and organized. She realizes that the most important thing is making room for her best friend, Jax.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship is by Marie Kondo, author of the adult bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Here, she tucks her ideas about staying organized into a cheery picture book that shows how too much mess can affect a friendship. Kiki is a squirrel who likes collecting things, and Jax is an owl who likes sorting things. Kiki can't play soccer with Jax because she lost her ball, and can't go swimming with him becaue she can't find her swimsuit in her messy pile of clothes. Eventually, Jax helps Kiki  clean up her house and gives her tips on how to keep it organized. The tips include the Kondo motto that guides reducing clutter: "If it sparks joy in your heart, keep it! And if it doesn't, thank it and let it go."

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What's the story?

In KIKI & JAX: THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF FRIENDSHIP, Kiki the squirrel and Jax the owl are best friends, but they have different ways of dealing with things: Jax likes to sort things, but Kiki likes to collect them. But she collects so many things that her house is full of clutter and she can't find the things she wants amid all the mess. When Jax asks her to come play soccer, she declines because she can't find her ball. When he invites her to go swimming, she says no because she can't find her swimsuit. Jax is afraid she's forgotten they're friends, so he makes a scrapbook of their friendship and drops it off at her house as a present. She's so excited she runs to his house and they play there, where Jax models tidiness and organization. Kiki says, "I wish we could play at my house, too. But there's just no room!" Jax tells her, "Yes there IS! Let me show you!" And they go to her house and he does. They tidy up, fold clothes to put neatly in drawers, and sort things that don't "spark joy" into boxes to get rid of them -- donations, books for the free library, things to recycle, and trash. And there's one box labeled "Keep."

Is it any good?

This cheery picture book wraps its pro-tidying message in a sweet friendship tale of two friends whose different approaches to clutter have started to come between them. If your house is so messy that "getting to the front door felt like running an obstacle course" and it's preventing you from having your best friend over, maybe you have a problem. Who knows if Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship will lead to young readers change their messy ways? But young readers will enjoy a gentle story about two friends focusing on what really matters: keeping the things you truly love accessible and spending time with your best friend. And Salina Yoon's bright, appealing, cartoon-like illustrations help drive home the positive messages about friendship and tidiness.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship has to say about messes. Does a mess ever get in the way of you having fun? Do you think sorting things like Jax suggests would help you keep things tidy?

  • Is it hard to ask friends to do things differently? Have you ever helped a friend change a way of doing something? Did it help your friendship? 

  • How do you keep track of things? Do you have a place for favorite toys? Is there anything you could do to keep things from getting lost?

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