The world is always in need of kindness for animals and for one another, so when I saw this book written in 2001 about two boys who live in different quarters of Jerusalem coming together when they learn they are caring for the same stray cat, I was definitely excited to dive in.
The book starts with a Jewish boy, Avi, caring for a fluffy white stray cat and his mom teasing him for caring for him. He begins to wonder where the cat goes and resolves next time he comes around to follow him. The reader then sees the cat journey through a market place and have the exact same interaction with Hamudi, a Muslim boy. Both boys go days without seeing their beloved cat and when they begin to look for her, they find each other. The boys fight over her as it begins to snow and the cat takes them to see where she has been, with her new kittens.
Again the boys fight and ultimately resolve to divide up the kittens to care for them and let the mama cat go back and forth to feed them. Needless to say, I was a little let down by the book, I had hoped the boys would bond or see how similar they are. Instead they simply work out a solution for this one situation. I can’t help but thinking the kitty family getting broken up and the poor mom having to go back in forth is rather selfish on the boys behalf.
The book is 32 pages and written on an AR level 3.1. Third grade and up can probably understand the similarities of the boys and how they come together to care for the cat and appreciate it with a simplistic understanding of Jerusalem’s complexities. Kindergarten and 1st graders could probably handle it as a story time selection, and understand working together to help a cat. I’m sure fifth graders and up however, will be a little concerned for the mama cat and disappointed in the boys at a lost opportunity to provide hope in a troubled region.
There is an Author’s note and Glossary of Arabic and Hebrew words at the end, and a simple, yet valuable map of the Old City at the beginning.