Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be shining the spotlight on a moving picture book, “Lost and Found Cat” by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes (released January 31, 2017).
“This heartwarming true story about one lost cat’s journey to be reunited with his refugee family gently introduces children to a difficult topic and shows how ordinary people can help with compassion and hope.“
About “Lost and Found Cat”
Title: Lost and Found Cat | Authors: Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes | Illustrator: Sue Cornelison | Publication Date: January 31, 2017 | Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers | Pages: 48 | Ages: 4 to 8
When an Iraqi family is forced to flee their home, they can’t bear to leave their beloved cat, Kunkush, behind. So they carry him with them from Iraq to Greece, keeping their secret passenger hidden away.
But during the crowded boat crossing to Greece, his carrier breaks and the frightened cat runs from the chaos. In one moment, he is gone. After an unsuccessful search, his family has to continue their journey, leaving brokenhearted.
A few days later, aid workers in Greece find the lost cat. Knowing how much his family has sacrificed already, they are desperate to reunite them with the cat they love so much. A worldwide community comes together to spread the word on the Internet and in the news media, and after several months the impossible happens—Kunkush’s family is found, and they finally get their happy ending in their new home.
This remarkable true story is told by the real people involved, with the full cooperation of Kunkush’s family.
I decided to share my thoughts on this lovely picture book because as messages steeped in racism, sexism, and hate flood the media, there are as many stories of hope, kindness, and compassion; and, Lost and Found Cat by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes is one of those stories.
Lost and Found Cat tells the true story of a family (a widow and her five children) from Iraq who risk their lives to escape the instability and dangers of their country. Their journey involved sneaking out in a vehicle in the middle of the night; traversing forests and mountains; hiding out in a Kurdish village; long bus rides to the Turkish coast; and a harrowing boat trip across the Aegean Sea to Greece. Without making the family’s experience overly frightening for young children, the authors and illustrator were able to provide a glimpse into the experience of refugees fleeing their war-torn country. I think this was a completely appropriate depiction of what occurs and this part of the story provides a great jumping-off point for a classroom discussion, for example.
While the backdrop of the story is the escape of this family from Iraq to Greece and then eventually to their “home” (you’ll have to read the story to discover where the family settles), the real story is about the journey of the family’s cat, Kunkush. As a cat lover myself, I can attest to the attachment one feels to a family pet. The authors point out that the family brought what they could carry – mostly food and water. They could not leave their beloved cat behind so they smuggled her among their meager belongings. Imagine leaving everything you own behind and the value you would then place on that pet. To the family’s utter horror, Kunkush makes the difficult journey all the way to Greece where she then gets separated from the family.
The rest of the story (which I sobbed through), involves the kindness of the volunteers who found and helped Kunkush regain his strength and spearheaded an international search to reunite the cat with his family. And, here is my nod to the power of Facebook which played a pivotal role in finding the family. Ok, – big “Yah!” for the internet!
This story is quite “text-heavy” which works with this book because the depth of detail is necessary to help children fully understand the experience of this family and to appreciate the efforts of the volunteers who helped reunite Kunkush with his family. The full-page illustrations are beautiful and effectively create the mood for the story. There are a few added-value pieces included at the back of the book, including a note from the authors (i.e., the real-life volunteers) who share their personal experience and share an update on Kunkush; a map depicting Kunkush’s journey; and photographs Kunkush, his journey, and the heart-wrenching reunion. Just a beautiful, beautiful story and book! LOVE IT!
Lost and Found Cat would be a great book to read to a classroom to begin a discussion of the experiences of refugees. Did I mention that I LOVE IT?! Ages 5 to 8.
* This book was provided to us by the publisher free-of-charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. *
More Buzz About the Book
“This moving true story will inspire discussions with young readers about what it means to be a refugee, the unexpected consequences of being displaced, and the importance of kindness.” —Brightly
“Bound to be a hit with cats and kids alike, this picture book tells the harrowing story of a cat who was separated from his family when they fled from Iraq and the amazing way he found his way home again.” —People.com
“A meaningful message of love and loss, of empathy and outreach, and ultimately, at its core, of compassion, grace and kindness.” —The Sag Harbor Express
About the Authors: Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes
Amy Shrodes (@amyshrodes) and Doug Kuntz (@dougkuntzphotos) felt compelled to travel to Greece to help with the refugee crisis, each in their own unique way—Amy as a volunteer helping the arriving refugees and raising awareness back at home through a podcast, and Doug as a photojournalist, who spent five months in Greece, Turkey, France, Germany, and finally Norway, bringing the plight of the refugees to people around the globe. When they met Kunkush, they knew he was very special to someone and they wanted to do everything they could to reunite him with his family.