The Lost Kitten by Lee and illustrated by Komako Sakai
This is a heart-felt picture book about a family adopting a needy kitten, translated from the original Japanese. Hina and her mother find a kitten on their doorstep. The mother cat looks on, with two other kittens by her side. This kitten is small and weak – maybe that is why the mother is asking people to care for it instead of caring for the kitten herself like her two other kittens. At first, Hina doesn’t want the kitten: it isn’t cute, it is sickly. But her mother takes in the kitten and begins to care for it, showing Hina how it is done. Hina’s mother is gentle and compassionate and teaches her daughter a valuable lesson about kindness and opening your heart. When Hina is left for a time with the kitten while her mother is out and her grandmother is napping, she panics when she can’t find the kitten. She searches all over for it, eventually finding it curled up asleep on a sweater in the closet. Hina has come to care for the kitten, whom she names Sleepy. The book is beautifully illustrated with soft colored pencil and paint. I especially like the message the book conveys about loving those who have special needs or who aren’t the most beautiful. Hina seems cold-hearted at first, not wanting the kitten because it may be sick and isn’t as cute as others, but she grows to love the kitten.