Today’s perfect picture book is another find from Books of Wonder in New York City. It’s also a tale about a beloved pet – something near and dear to me, as we rescued a dog who undertook a long journey to join our family just a few weeks ago.
Title: Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey
Written By: Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes
Illustrated By: Sue Cornelison
Publisher/date: Crown Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House)/2017
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: non-fiction, Iraqi refugees, cat, pet
Late one night in August 2015, a car driven by a smuggler snuck out of the city of Mosul, in the country of Iraq. The smuggler’s passengers were a mother and her four daughters and one son.
Brief Synopsis: A family fleeing from fighting in Iraq lose a beloved pet cat while on their journey to safety in Europe. With the help of many people, the family and pet finally reunite.
Links to Resources:
- This story begins in Iraq and ends in Norway. Find out more about these countries;
- Draw a picture of your pet;
- Have you ever lost or found an animal? What characteristics (size, color, name, etc.) did you share to help find your pet or find a lost animal’s owner?
- Create a Lost or Found poster.
Why I Like this Book:
Lost and Found Cat is one of the few non-fiction picture books to address the current refugee crisis. It also is a touching story about the feelings one family has for its beloved pet cat, and the kindness of strangers who find Kunkush, foster him in Greece and Germany, use social media to find his family, and then reunite them. I think kids will enjoy experiencing the journey through the cat’s perspective, and will be relieved and amazed at the outcome – after all, not every pet survives life in a war zone let alone the journey over land and sea to a new life.
A Note about Craft:
As revealed in an Author’s Note, Kuntz and Shrodes were working with refugees in Greece when they found Kunkush. I love how they feature him as the focus of the story without anthropomorphizing him. By doing so, they keep the story non-fiction and keep the attention on the cat, where it belongs.
Interestingly, although neither author appears to be a professional writer, a major US publisher, Penguin Random House, published Lost and Found Cat. To my knowledge, Lost and Found Cat is one of the first picture books focused on the current refugee journey that has been published by a major US publisher (Canadian publishers have published many more). I think that the focus on a lost pet adds a universal theme that appealed to the editors.
If you enjoyed Lost and Found Cat, you may also enjoy:
The Three Lucys, about a boy’s three pet cats in Lebanon and how they coped during a violent period there
The Jasmine Sneeze, about a cat in Damascus, Syria
My Beautiful Birds, about a boy’s pet birds that are left behind in Syria and the birds he adopts in a refugee camp in Jordan
The Story of Moose, about a shelter dog in the Virgin Islands whose Facebook page helped him find a new, loving family in Massachusetts
Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list provides reviews of picture books by topic. While Susanna is taking a break for the summer, you can still check out the other great picture books featured there!