An early version of the cover and one of the spreads … we are still making changes.
At night, while his family slept nearby, he listened to the howling and hissing of the wild cats outside.
Luca wanted to dart, scamper and scurry like a wild cat. “You should not be running around outside,” his mother said. “You should be playing with your brother and sister.”
But Luca preferred to go out and about in his neighborhood, where everyone knew him.
He liked to tease the grumpy dog next door. “Go away, Luca!” the dog barked. “You are a trouble maker!”
One day, Luca spotted a butterfly. He followed it over a fence, up a tree and all around.
When the game was over, the butterfly flittered away, waving goodbye with her wings.
Luca looked around. He did not know his way home.
He was lost.
Luca asked some birds for help.
“I am an excellent jumper and leaper. Could I fly with you and look for my garage?”
But the birds soared into the sky, leaving Luca alone.
Luca met an old alley cat. “I miss my family and I can’t find my way back home. Can I stay wtih you?” Luca asked.
“I don’t have enough food for both of us,” the old cat said.
He warned Luca: “The street is not the right place for a young cat. There are wild cats out here who are not friendly.” So Luca set out in search of a safer home.
Luca searched and searched, and after a long time he found himself in a snowy place where he met a big friendly polar bear.
“I am looking for a new home,” the shivering cat told the bear. “But I do not like the snow landing on my head or the ice touching my paws.”
“You need to keep looking until you find a warmer home,” the bear said.
Luca walked until the sun made his fur warm and shiny. A gorilla asked the cat if he was lost. “I cannot find my family,” Luca said. “Can I stay with you?”
“There are dangerous animals here,” the gorilla said. “A farm would make a better home for you.”
All sorts of animals lived on the farm.
“Everybody has a job,” the farmer said. “Cows make milk. Chickens lay eggs. Cats catch mice.” But Luca had never caught a mouse. “I can’t use you then,” the farmer said.
A cow suggested that Luca go to a zoo. “Zoo animals don’t have to work,” she said. “They just have to look good.”
At the zoo, Luca told the giraffes that he would make a good addition. “I am very cute,” he said.
“But zoos are for unusual animals like giraffes and tigers,” the giraffes said.“No one comes to see a cat, not even one as cute as you.”
On his way out of the zoo, Luca met a family of ducks. He asked the mama duck if he could join them.“As long as you walk in line with the ducklings,” she said.
Luca tried his best, but it was not long before he was out of line. “You just aren’t duck material,” the mama said.
The mama duck suggested to Luca that he go to a shelter, a very special place where animals can get help finding new homes.
Luca went straight to a shelter but he wasn’t sure a family would want to take him home. “I can’t catch mice and I’m not interesting like a giraffe and I can’t walk in line like a duckling.”
One day, a family came to the shelter looking for a special cat. The family loved Luca the moment they saw him. They knew he had gone through a long journey before coming to the shelter.
“Luca, do you want to live with us?” they asked.
“YES!” Luca said, and he rolled over so they could scratch his belly.
Luca and his new family drove to their home. Luca purred all the way.
Luca now spends his summer days teasing the dog next door. At night, he curls up in a purry pile with the other cats in his new family.
Luca is no longer cold or lonely or scared. He is finally home.
The real Luca was found in the parking lot of an animal shelter in Chicago.
He came up to a shelter volunteer who later said it seemed like Luca was asking for help finding a home.
He is very, very cute.