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.
I remember reading about Kunkush's reunion with his family in the news, and finding the story very moving, so when I stumbled across Lost and Found Cat, written by two American volunteers who traveled to Greece to help arriving refugees, I immediately picked it up. The story here addresses some serious issues, from warfare to the dangerous journeys that refugees must make in seeking safety, but it also includes some hopeful and heartwarming elements, from the love that Sura and her family feel for each other and for Kunkush, to the kindness of the volunteers who helped reunite the lost cat with his human family. I cannot imagine the terror and sadness involved, for those who must make the decision to abandon their home and country, in order to seek refuge elsewhere, or the courage necessary to make a long trek into an uncertain future, but I do know that people confronted with such realities tend to take only what they feel is absolutely necessary. The fact that this refugee family took their cat along, despite the dangers of the road, and the knowledge that they could get into trouble with the smugglers 'helping' them, if he were discovered, speaks to the depth of their love for him.
Pairing a poignant story with beautiful artwork - Sue Cornelison's illustrations here were just lovely, capturing the heartbreak and hardhsip of one human family's journey, as well as the adorable charm of their feline companion - this is a book I would highly recommend**, whether it be to those looking for children's stories about refugees, or to anyone seeking picture-books about cats, and about the human bond with our animal companions. There's even a segment at the back with photographs of the real Kunkush!
**One note of caution: It mentions in the afterword that Kunkush died unexpectedly in 2016, after being reunited with his family. In my opinion this made the story even more poignant, and made me all the more glad that he found his people before the end, but those looking for an exclusively happy ending, might want to be aware of that fact.