The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Ban” – Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrations by Sydney Smith


51ub3j0enslThe White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Ban” – Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrations by Sydney Smith, Groundwood Books, (9781554987801), 2016

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review)  5

Genre:  Picture Books

What did you like about the book? Beautiful watercolor and ink illustrations bring to life a ninth century Irish poem written by a monk about his companion cat.  The story begins with several wordless pages as the white cat makes its way into the monk’s cell in the monastery.  The monk and the cat spend the day together while pursuing their own interests, the monk with his books and the cat pursuing a mouse.  “Pangur does not disturb me at my work, and I do not disturb him at his. We are each content, with all we need to entertain us. Ours is a happy tale.”  The beautiful simplicity  and joy of the poem is complemented by the illustrations.  The universality of the poem is reflected in the beauty of the successful pairing of the Asian influenced illustrations and the Old Irish poem.  An “Author’s Note” gives background on the source poem.  

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Readers who loves cats and poetry will enjoy this lovely tale.  

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review: 1/15/17             

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