________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 24. . . .February 26, 2016


The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem ‘Pangur Bán’.

Jo Ellen Bogart. Illustrated by Sydney Smith.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover & pdf, $18.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55498-780-1 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-781-8 (pdf).

Subject Headings:
Monks-Juvenile fiction.
Cats-Juvenile fiction.
Truth-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Tamara Opar.

**** /4


I, monk and scholar, share my room with my white cat, Pangur. By candle’s light, late into the night, we work, each at a special trade.


As in a wordless book, Pangur, the white cat, leads the reader into this elegant story through a series of black ink drawings that map out his pathway to a door with a warm light shining from beneath. The White Cat and the Monk is a retelling of an old Irish poem, “Pangur Bán”, which tells the story of the companionship shared between a monk and his white cat, Pangur. Each character has a purpose as illustrated throughout the pages; the monk searches for meaning in his manuscripts while the cat pursues a mouse. Each is patient and diligent in his task until its completion; the mouse is caught, and the morning brings light into the darkness for the monk.

     Bogart’s prose is simple and uncluttered, each thought expressed in few words, adding to the reflective tone. The story, itself, includes the subtle lesson of working diligently to reach one’s goals.

     Sydney Smith’s lovely illustrations are created in black ink and watercolour. The black and brown tones mirror the reflective mood of the story, giving way to a burst of colour in the illuminated manuscripts that the monk ponders over.

     Truly a wonderful book, The White Cat and the Monk expresses the richness of the relationship between the two characters. This is an excellent choice to share with a child to enjoy the playfulness of the illustrations that reflect the connection between the Monk and the white cat.

Highly Recommended.

Tamara Opar is Section Head of Children’s and Teen Services at Millennium Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
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