The Lost Kitten, by Japanese author Lee and leading illustrator Komako Sakai, shares a gentle story about a dear kitten in need of a home. Hina and her mother are surprised to find a kitten on their doorstep. Mother cat knows she can’t give her little kitten the care it needs and in her own way, asks Hina and her mother to look after it. From mother to mother there’s an understanding. Hina is hesitant because the kitten is frail and not as cute as the ones at the pet shop, but her mother knows otherwise and leads by example. Showing deep compassion she scoops up the kitten in her hands, cleans it, cuddles it, and motivates Hina to do the same. It doesn’t take long for the young girl to fall in love.
It didn’t take us long to fall in love with The Lost Kitten either. Our love grew along with Hina’s and was strengthen by a relatable and emotional incident in the story. There’s a clue in the title—yep—the tiny kitten gets lost. Hina’s worry is convincingly depicted and you can’t help but feel for her. Efforts to find the kitten are precious. So is their reunion.
Sakai’s illustrations are of a remarkable quality. Emotive, tactile, and delicate. We’re given a true sense of Hina’s character and what it’s like to have the responsibility of another under your care. Lee’s story is simple and sincere. It gave us an opportunity to talk about what our responses and actions would be if placed in a similar situation.
I’ve had a relationship with Japan and its culture since I was small. As a child, I heard and watched many stories by Japanese artists. There’s a tenderness about them. A connection with the spirit. While I didn’t realise this until at an older age, the impression was made early on, as I remember them being a comfort. The Lost Kitten touches the heart, and—forewarning—reading it will make you want a kitten of your very own.