The cat man of Aleppo

by Latham, Irene,

Format: Print Book 2020
Availability: Available at 18 Libraries 18 of 20 copies
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Summary
The Caldecott Honor-winning true story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, who in the midst of the Syrian Civil War courageously offered safe haven to Aleppo's abandoned cats.


Aleppo's city center no longer echoes with the rich, exciting sounds of copper-pot pounding and traditional sword sharpening. His neighborhood is empty--except for the many cats left behind.

Alaa loves Aleppo, but when war comes his neighbors flee to safety, leaving their many pets behind. Alaa decides to stay--he can make a difference by driving an ambulance, carrying the sick and wounded to safety. One day he hears hungry cats calling out to him on his way home. They are lonely and scared, just like him. He feeds and pets them to let them know they are loved. The next day more cats come, and then even more! There are too many for Alaa to take care of on his own. Alaa has a big heart, but he will need help from others if he wants to keep all of his new friends safe.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "The ongoing civil war in Syria has brought devastation for almost a decade now, and this picture-book collaboration relates that tragedy through the hopeful and incredible true story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel. When the war came to Aleppo, many people fled and were forced to leave behind their animals. Alaa, an ambulance driver, began feeding the stranded cats of his abandoned neighborhood, and their numbers quickly multiplied. One social media movement later, he was able to build an animal sanctuary, as well as offer other services for local human survivors. The story of the Cat Man of Aleppo is remarkable in its own right, but it also serves as a bridge between the harsh reality in Syria and young American students, with the cats serving as a more approachable and relatable proxy for the people suffering in the background. Shimizu's lifelike illustrations capture the joy and beauty prior to the war, juxtaposing it with the horror and grief that followed. A trio of early spreads depict the trauma, violence, and mass destruction, though there is no gore, and what follows is a purely hopeful tale of love for one's homeland. What a relief to see Middle Easterners depicted as recognizably modern people through their clothing, technology, and so on rather than religious caricatures or characters from Aladdin. A safe, sobering, and hopeful introduction to the crisis in Syria.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2020 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In this picture book biography of an unexpected war hero, Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel--Alaa--is first seen in the old covered market of Aleppo, his native city. When war comes to Syria, many inhabitants leave, but Alaa stays to help: as an ambulance driver, "he swerves through the rubbled streets and carries the wounded to safety." Intricate digitally colored ink drawings by Shimizu (Barbed Wire Baseball) portray scenes of desolation in this story by Latham (This Poem Is a Nest) and Shamsi-Basha, a Syrian-born writer and photographer. With meticulous care, Shimizu draws the destroyed buildings, the empty streets, and the cats that fleeing Syrians have left behind. In one striking spread, a huge olive tree towers over Alaa, two cats eyeing him from its branches. He starts bringing the strays food and water. "Together we can save them all," he tells his neighbors. Donors who hear about his efforts help him fund a sanctuary ("Alaa is able to rescue other animals, too"), a playground for children, and a well. "All he did was love the cats, and that love multiplied and multiplied again." Latham and Shamsi-Basha pick out the glimmers of light that make up Alaa's story, and Shimizu portrays their beauty. Author's notes give more information--including where to donate. Ages 4--8. Authors' agents: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio (for Latham); Rena Rossner, Deborah Harris Agency (for Shamsi-Basha). (Apr.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Aljaleel, Alaa -- Juvenile fiction.
Aljaleel, Alaa -- Fiction.
Animal rescue -- Juvenile fiction.
Cats -- Juvenile fiction.
Animal rescue -- Fiction.
Cats -- Fiction.
Animals -- Fiction.
Aleppo (Syria) -- Juvenile fiction.
Syria -- History -- Civil War, 2011- -- Juvenile fiction.
Aleppo (Syria) -- Fiction.
Syria -- History -- Civil War, 2011- -- Fiction.
Biographical fiction.
Publisher New York :2020
Contributors Shamsi-Basha, Karim, 1965- author.
Shimizu, Yuko, 1965- illustrator.
Language English
Awards Caldecott Honor Book, 2021
Description 1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 9781984813787
1984813781
Other Classic View