For most parents, asking a child to clean up is more likely to spark a tantrum than to spark joy. But Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing guru and mother of two who has sparked a worldwide clutter purge, thinks otherwise.
Marie Kondo has officially released her first children’s book, Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship, on November 5, 2019. The 40-page book was created in collaboration with an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Salina Yoon.
The 35-year-old teamed up with award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Salina Yoon to tell a story about how tidying up can even bring friends closer together. “Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship” is a picture book that tells the story of two best friends: While Kiki, the squirrel enjoys collecting, Jax, the owl, enjoys organization and even knows the KonMari fold! Although the two have a lot of fun together, Kiki’s ever-growing collection starts to become overwhelming and together they must find a way to make room for what truly sparks joy: their relationship.
The book, co-written and illustrated by Salina Yoon, ends with a diagram in case your kids don’t. When Kiki’s surfeit of stuff threatens their relationship, Jax unleashes his inner Kondo and turns cleaning into a game: Kiki and Jax make piles; they hug clothes; they fold and organize and spark joy. Kiki realizes she has room not just for her things, but also her friend. It’s very tidy indeed.
Throughout the 40-page book, Yoon hid items that spark joy for Kondo’s two daughters. Young readers can try to find a ukulele, a donkey, polka dot sunglasses, a rainbow bag, among other treasures. “I’ve always felt a deep connection to Marie,” the author and illustrator shared. “We were completely aligned on the message we wanted to share with families; it’s a rare thing when a book writes itself, and Kiki & Jax was that kind of story.”
Below is an interview with Marie Kondo which discussed her new book and why she believes kids can find joy in being neat, or at least in cleaning up.
Q: Are your children like Kiki and Jax?
A: Actually, they both resemble Jax because they like tidying up.
Q: So neither of your kids is messy?
A: Well, they are not always organized. Sometimes they make messes, but usually they are tidy. Anyway, when they are messy, they don’t dislike tidying up.
Q: When are children old enough to try the KonMari fold?
A: Maybe around age 3, I think kids would be old enough to try the task of folding.
Q: How old do you think you have to be to master it?
A: It’s different from child to child. So for example, my older daughter, she was actually mastering the fold when she was 2 and putting things away really nice and neatly. However, my younger one, who is now 3, does it roughly and squeezes things into the drawers.
Q: I saw a sweet photo of your kids folding clothes on Instagram; they were 3 and 2 at the time. At what age do you think kids should start trying to be tidy?
A: As soon as they can walk, like maybe when they are 1 year old, you can start having them put things back where they belong. They don’t mind that so much — so maybe little by little you can start getting them to clean up.
Q: What if they say, “No, no, no!”
A: Of course, sometimes they say, “No, no, no!” But in our case, because our daughters see their parents having fun tidying up, they don’t have a bad image of it. They feel like it’s fun.
Q: How do you involve your whole family in tidying up?
A: For example, when we all get together and tidy up, that might be after dinner. We say, “Okay, now it’s tidy-up time, and when we’re all done, we’re going to have dessert!” So if you achieve the goal, you will get the reward.
Q: After this book, you will publish another, your fifth book published in the U.S, “Joy at Work,” about the value of a clean workspace. Once people have finished reading your books, where do you suggest that they keep them?
A: If you are still in the middle of tidying up, then you want to keep the book on your bookshelf. But if you are totally and completely done cleaning, then you can let go of it.
Q: What books—other than your own—are your current favorites to read with your daughters?
Oftentimes the mother is responsible for a child appearing as well as working outside the home.