Thursday, February 23, 2017

Here, Kitty, Kitty! Lost and Found Cat by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes

A few days earlier, Sura's family had gotten ready to leave. Since they could only bring what they could carry, they had packed just one bag full of food and water.

But Sura had decided that they could not leave without their beloved cat, Kunkush.

Sura's family made their way from the besieged town of Mosul in war-torn Iraq to the Turkish coast. Inside his straw carrier, Kunkush was a cooperative cat, and they managed to make their way onto the boat without anyone noticing their stowaway pet.

Sura prayed that the cat hidden in a small carrier would stay quiet. If the smuggler discovered Kunkush, he would make them pay a great deal more money.

The big white cat kept quiet through the short voyage, and the family waded ashore, with Sura's big brother clutching the cat carrier tightly. But when he reached safety, he put the basket down and went back into the water to help the rest of the family to shore.

And the frightened Kunkush pushed his way out of the basket carrier and quickly disappeared into the forest, running like a deer.

Sura's family and the other travelers called and searched for Kunkush, but he was not found. Finally, they had no choice but to push on with their group on a walk that carried them through Greece and Macedonia, on to Germany, and at last to Norway, where they would make their new home. It seemed that Sura would never see her beloved cat again.

But that was not the end of the story for Kunkush. Some of the Greek volunteers spotted a bedraggled and hungry white cat among the strays begging fishermen for scraps at the dock, and one of them, Amy, took him in and started searching for the little girl who had lost her cat. She knew she couldn't trace Sura's family alone, but she knew something she could do.

Amy's friend in the United States made a Facebook page which made Kunkush, now called Diias, (modern Greek for Zeus) famous. An English couple agreed to keep the cat safe for a while, and at last Sura saw his picture on the news in Norway and instantly recognized her cat. And in a Skype call to Sura's family, their lost cat recognized his famiy and they recognized him, and at long last, the reunion of Sura and Kunkush was arranged.

But at the airport Amy and Kunkush were stopped at the gate. An official declared that Amy's carrier was too small for a cat of his size.

"Why, that cat can't even turn around," he declared, closing the gate.

Kunkush turned around immediately--180 degrees!

Against all odds, there was a happy reunion for Sura and Kunkush in Norway after all, in Doug Kuntz's and Amy Shrodes,' Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush's Incredible Journey (Crown Books, 2017). Among all the sad accounts of refugees fleeing the Middle East for Europe, this true story gives young readers who can scarcely imagine such a thing an understanding of the hardships of a journey which for refugees means leaving behind everything they love, a home, family, friends, and pets. But in this sweet modern miracle story of human kindness and reunion with a beloved pet, beautifully illustrated by Sue Cornelison. young readers can take away a hopeful look at the current story of war refugees, in which much is left behind, but not all the important things are lost.

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