When we were younger, my sisters and I really loved the 1993 film Homeward Bound. We watched it over and over again. The film had such an impact on my whole family that we all still quote things from it now. It helps that Michael J. Fox is absolutely amazing in the role of Chance but, really, we just love a good animal story. Especially about a group of them defying the odds. So, when writer Tony Lee Moral got in touch with me about his new children’s book, I definitely wanted to read it. After all, what’s better than the story of an animal defying the odds? The story of an animal defying the odds that is based on real-life.
In 2012, biologist Miguel Ordenana captured a photo of a mountain lion in Griffith Park, LA. It was an exciting discovery and the predator became something of a celebrity. Know as P22, the mountain lion was the sole mountain lion living in the urban natural park. After further investigation, it was discovered that P22 had most likely travelled from the Santa Monica Mountains to his current home. That meant he would have crossed two freeways. It was a spectacular idea and has helped P22 become even more of a popular figure.
In his book The Cat That Changed America, Tony Lee Moral has used P22’s story as inspiration and imagined what his journey would have been like. It starts with his life in the Santa Monica Mountains with his mother and brother. To survive, the brothers have to face a future moving away from the mountains but their choices are limited. Faced with no other option, P22 leaves his childhood home to order to find a new hunting territory. Along the way, he encounters several new faces and makes a couple of friends. He also has to avoid plenty of danger. We know that he eventually makes it to the park but that doesn’t make the story any less engaging.
The book does a great job of bringing P22 and his animal friends to life. It has something of a Disney vibe to it that will suit a younger audience. It’s a charming book and the characters all have their own fun personalities. Of course, it isn’t just a load of twee fiction. The book includes plenty of fact and insight. It doesn’t shy away from the realities of the animal world and you get a good idea of what P22 might have had to face. There’s his rivalry with an older mountain lion, his role as predator, and the threat of mankind. This isn’t a book that takes its anthropomorphising too far.
Which means you are always aware of the importance of the story. A young reader would not just find a host of funny little anima characters but also plenty of facts about mountain lions. It’s an educational book and one with an important message. It is raising awareness and funds for further protection for animals like P22. The Cat That Changed America is a great way to introduce young children to the impact that humans have had on the natural world. It’s a very enjoyable and fun read. If I had to find one criticism, it’s that the book seems to end quite abruptly. I just wish that there had been further details of P22s lonely life to further highlight his seclusion. But maybe I’m just greedy?
The Cat that Changed America will be released on October 22nd 2020. You can preorder your Kindle copy now from:
To find out more about P22 and what you can do to help visit The Cat That Changed America
I am so grateful to have recieved a copy of this lovely book from the writer Tony Lee Moral. Visit Tony’s website to find out more about his other work.