how empathy changes the way a young girl thinks about a kitten

by Lee, illustrated by Komako Sakai – Gecko Press, 2017
ages 2 to 8 years / picture books + emotional resilience, heartwarming

Loving an animal carries with it a measure of power and of responsibility. In embracing both, we grow and become more fully human—understanding and feeling the weight of our innate ability to influence.

In the story of The Lost Kitten, a little girl, Hina, and her mother are met by a mother cat who seems to ask them to care for her sickly kitten.

Hina is hesitant, she was hoping for ‘a cute one from the pet shop’.

Her mother cleans the little kitten up, and as Hina starts to care for it she also starts to love it.

(There's a lovely metaphor here for the benefits of caring, serving and helping others, regardless of whether they are feline or human!)

And later, when Hina is left to care for the kitten, she can't find it!

But Hina had been lost once, and when she begins to remember that experience she also begins to understand the kitten: as her empathy grows so does her love and concern. Eventually she finds the kitten, loves it, names it, and befriends it.

The Lost Kitten full book_Page_16.jpg
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
Anatole France (maybe)

This is a beautifully illustrated book. The vulnerability of the kitten and Hina’s misgivings are made so much more real through the pictures. They show a depth of family love that is endearing, and carry a wonderful sense of change as Hina adjusts to the idea of a kitten who has been thrust into her life.

As well as being a story that will captivate young children, especially those longing for a pet, there are some truly lovely moral thoughts contained within the book—here are a few:

Choosing to care for a living creature carries with it a measure of commitment—Hina is at first reluctant to take on the commitment but, as her understanding of the kitten grows, so does her capacity to care. She loves the kitten: “Just thinking about the kitten made her happy.” But it is at the moment of empathy that she becomes driven to find the kitten and care for it.

Serving helps us to love—Hina makes a collar for the kitten, feeds it, searches for it and names it. All of these things increase Hina’s love for the kitten.

Big emotions can lead to big reactions—Hina found the kitten before her mother came home, and when mother did come home, Hina “was so relieved she began to cry.” What a lovely and true to life mother-child moment.

A small reading hint:

Hina is a Japanese name—it’s pronounced Hee-nah, more or less, they’re both short sounds.

The Lost Kitten is beautiful in story and in picture, but it’s the unfolding that is most beautiful of all—the way that Hina’s soul is awakened through the love of an animal. I’m sure you and the young children you read to will love this gentle, calming story.

Amazon  -  Book Depository

Book Depository has free postage anywhere in the world and great pricing, but Amazon might be cheaper for North American readers.

Names in this book – Hina