NORTH ATTLEBORO - Elementary school students are too young to remember the famous story of the North Attleboro cat and crow that forged a remarkable friendship, but they soon will have a chance to read all about it themselves.
The inspirational, true story of Cassie, an abandoned kitten nursed back to health by Wally and Ann Collito of North Attleboro with assistance from a backyard crow named Moses, is the subject of a soon-to-be-published book by first-time author Lisa Fleming.
"It's such a special story," Fleming said. "I'm honored to have written this book - it was so much fun. The message is if a cat and crow can be friends, so can we."
The book is called "Cat and Crow: An Amazing Friendship," and tells the story of what ordinarily are mortal enemies who, in this case, forged a special bond.
In 1999, Cassie was a stray kitten that appeared in the Collito's yard. Wally and Ann were amazed to watch as the crow began nursing the kitten back to health, feeding it worms and bugs. The Collito's spent months videotaping the pair playing together.
Cassie and Moses were together for about five years before Moses disappeared. Cassie, now 12, still lives with Wally Collito. Ann died in 2006.
The story of Cassie and Moses became a national sensation: It was featured on Oprah, National Geographic and Animal Planet. A YouTube video showing the pair, which has more than 8 million hits, was what first led Fleming to the story.
A former newspaper columnist with a passion for wildlife, Fleming, who lives in Florida, wanted to find out more about the story. Her research led her to visit with Collito and Cassie while they were staying in Florida for the winter.
After talking with Collito, she knew the story should be transformed into a children's book.
"I couldn't believe it wasn't a book yet," she said.
The book, which is written for ages 3 and up, will be published by Collage Books, with an official publication date of Oct. 16, which is National Feral Cat Day.
It will be available at Barnes and Noble and other select book sellers, as well as from Collage Books.
The 48-page book, with illustrations by Anne Marie Dominik-Harris, also includes fun facts about cats and crows, clippings from newspapers and real-life photographs of Cassie and Moses.
Fleming has a passionate interest in animals, and is planning to raise money for animal rescue causes, including during a book signing celebration at Emerald Square mall in October.
For more information about the book, visit Fleming's Facebook page by searching for "cat and crow children's book."