The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu


A1cHMF+LTuL._AC_UY218_ML3_The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2020. 9781984813787

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre:  Biographical fiction

What did you like about the book? Amidst the backdrop of war, a man sets himself the task of saving the cats left behind by a fleeing populace. Mohmmad Alaa Aljaleel, who goes by Alaa, stays in Aleppo after the war hits the city. He decides to help the cats, in order to do something for his city, when so much feels hopeless. He is one of the helpers doing what he can for the city he loves. The artist does a wonderful job of portraying the city, with its sights and sounds, making it look like a lively, warm place. When war breaks out, the page opening background is black, creating a feeling of despair and heartbreak. Alaa is grizzled and rumpled and totally lovable as a character, and readers will love him and his passionate care for animals and children. The author gives just the right amount of information on the details of life during war for the target audience.  The art adds so much, varying perspectives, as the reader looks into windows, up into trees at cats peering down, from above to see kids following Alaa with a bag of meat for the cats, and rendering the cats with gorgeous variety. An important book for kids in understanding war, and a true story. Includes notes from the authors, artist and Alaa.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  For ages 4-8, when material on war is desired.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: April 23, 2020

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review, Cats, Irene Latham, Karim Shamsi-Basha, War, Yuko Shimizu and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.