A beautiful story of kindness and hope in the midst of conflict The Little War Cat encourages empathy and understanding and celebrates how each small act of care can make a big difference. A picture book full of compassion.
We follow the story of a small, grey cat who lives happily in the city of Aleppo and begin with her sunning herself on a wall surrounded by sunshine and watching a butterfly above her head. But as we turn the page we see that everything changed for the people of Aleppo and for the little cat. War came and with war destruction and loss. The small animal wanders the streets looking for refuge, past boarded up shops, searching for food and hiding from the humans who bring noise and chaos. But then one day something happens that changes things once more. Someone shows the little cat kindness and she learns to trust again, better still she learns how to pass that kindness on to others. The circle of kindness may bring hope to others too.
This is such a beautiful book, the gentle text is perfectly pitched to describe the conflict at an appropriate level for young readers and the sensitive illustrations by Laura Chamberlain provide detail for children to discuss with parents or teachers. The contrast between peaceful Aleppo and the city under siege is sobering and yet the kindness offered to the little cat brings with it sunshine and a reminder of how things were before. We also see glimpses of people in the background offering small acts of kindness; holding a ladder for another or a comforting arm around shoulders.
That this story is inspired by a real person adds greater poignancy. As Hiba explains in her note at the end of the book, Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, “the Cat Man of Aleppo”, stayed in the city and set up a sanctuary, a home for hundreds of cats. Gradually adults and children came to help him and the place became a haven of love and hope. This lovely book would be perfect for encouraging empathy and for prompting discussion about how we can be kind and help others even in small ways.
Thank you very much to Clare Hall-Craggs and MacMillan Children’s Books for providing my review copy. The Little War Cat was published on 17th September and is available at all good bookshops and online
You may enjoy this video of Hiba Noor Khan reading from The Little War Cat…