Inspired by a true story, The Little War Cat is a moving picture book by debut author Hiba Noor Khan, depicting a hopeful story amidst conflict from the perspective of one of Aleppo's smallest inhabitants: a little grey cat.
Reviewed by Heather Hann
The Little War Cat is inspired by Mohammad Aljaleel, nicknamed ‘The Cat Man of Aleppo’, who as a Syrian civilian tried to help children and animals living through conflict.
The story follows a little grey cat who lives in Aleppo and enjoys sunbathing and playing with the other cats. One day ‘humans in boots’ come and suddenly everything changes. There are bangs and crashes as building around her are destroyed and food and shelter become harder and harder to find. In the end, the cat hides in the shadows, hungry and scared and it looks as if all hope is lost. Then one day she notices a different human; one that doesn’t make bangs and crashes but is gentle and kind. Will the little war cat find a home with kindness and care, and if she does can she make a difference to others that are lost and scared?
The words and the illustrations weave together to create a real story of hope, compassion and empathy, showing that kindness is still everywhere when you look for it.
This would be a lovely book to share as part of PSHE work, with a focus on hope and kindness and is strengthened by the real story of Mohammad Aljaleel at the end of the book. It could also be shared as part of an assembly or focus on values for the whole school. With younger pupils it could introduce a discussion about refugees and explore what they often see of war on news broadcasts alongside other titles with a similar themes such as The Voyage or The Little Refugee. With upper KS2 pupils, I would compare and contrast to other texts, such as Migrants by Issa Watanabe and Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis, to explore refugees and what the books tell us about their experiences.