Authors Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes and illustrator Sue Cornelison recreate the true life story of Kunkush the Cat’s journey from Mosul to Norway in Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey (2017, Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House). Coming out in just a few weeks, this children’s picture book is a timely piece about refugees’ struggles.
Here’s a quick summary ….. Sura flees Mosul with her five children and one beautiful white cat Kunkush. The family tries to keep Kunkush a secret to avoid paying additional fees. When the family arrives in Greece, Kunkush escapes his carrier and runs off. The family has to continue their journey without their beloved Kunkush. But through the efforts of volunteers and modern technologies Kunkish is reunited with his family in Norway.
Here’s what I like about this book:
(1) It humanizes the refugee experience. We have news stories about what refugees are experiencing and their incredible journeys, but these stories can be quite abstract for younger children. Lost and Found Cat can provide teachers and parents an entry point for discussing refugees’ experiences. That the story revolves around a family’s pet, a cat, may help younger children relate more to the story. This TIME by Carey Wallace article is a valuable resource for parents and teachers who want to discuss refugees with younger children – and older children.
(2) The illustrations. Cornelison’s illustrations are vivid and realistic. I always speak to my children’s literature students about selecting books with illustrations that can stand on their own. The illustrations in this book are perfect for helping younger kids develop oral language fluency.
(3) It’s multimodal. No longer do children’s books consist only of words and pictures. This book includes a map of Kunkush’s journey and photographs of the real Kunkush, his family, and photographs of Amy (one of the authors) taken by Doug (another author).
Here are some teaching ideas for Lost and Found Cat:
(1) Have kids chose a cause and use technology to bring about change. Technologies, including Facebook, are used to return Kunkush to his family. Kids can research important causes in their communities and learn how to use safely social media spaces in order to bring about change in their communities.
(2) Invite students to be community photojournalists. Inspired, in part, by Doug Kuntz’s photojournalism work, Lost and Found Cat can inspire other community photojournalists. How might this book be used to inspire a new generation of photojournalists to use their art form to tell powerful stories? As a budding photographer, I can’t help but think of all of the possibilities for our students to tell stories about their communities through photographs.
Let me know what you think of Lost and Found Cat in the comments below! And be sure to share this review with friends and colleagues!