This 40 page true story about Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel of Aleppo aka the Cat Man shows how one person can make a difference even in the middle of a war. The amount of text on the page, the topic covered, and the detailed illustrations will most appeal to second graders and up, but younger kids, particularly those that love animals, will enjoy the story as well.
Alaa loves his city: the markets, the foods, the people. When war comes, he doesn’t flee, he keeps working as an ambulance driver. He has a big heart. His sees destroyed neighborhoods where everyone has left, except for the cats. There is no one to feed them and give them water, and Alaa feels for them.
After his shift he buys meat, and feeds over a dozen cats. He does this everyday and soon a dozen turns in to fifty and he realizes that he can no longer care for the cats alone. He needs a place for them.
Word spreads and volunteers and donations start pouring in. He purchases a building with a shaded courtyard and soon cats are everywhere. When people leave Aleppo they bring their beloved cats to him, and even other animals start arriving. Alaa even builds a playground for the children and digs a well so everyone can have fresh water.
The book is pretty straightforward and steady, it doesn’t have much emotion for such a powerful true story, but it will still hit the mark in inspiring children to show kindness and compassion for animals and others.
There are notes from each other and the illustrator at the end that share light on their connection to the story and the situation in Syria. There is nothing religious in the book other than a few females in hijab.