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The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Bán”
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The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Bán”

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,215 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews
A monk leads a simple life. He studies his books late into the evening and searches for truth in their pages. His cat, Pangur, leads a simple life, too, chasing prey in the darkness. As night turns to dawn, Pangur leads his companion to the truth he has been seeking.

The White Cat and the Monk is a retelling of the classic Old Irish poem “Pangur Bán.” With Jo Ellen Bogart’s
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Groundwood Books
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Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medieval, picture, books
Text and illustrations are both perfect.

Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a beautifully illustrated book! I'm a sucker for cat and Irish books, so this was a no brainer. I love the poem; it's about love of the simple things and finding the light in the dark, and the greatness of knowledge and books. The art is to die for, and the book had a great message.
Karen Witzler
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Beautiful meditative book. The text is a retelling of the medieval poem about a monk working on his illuminated manuscript and comparing his own work to that done by his companion, the patient and relentless white mouser Pangur Ban. The illustrations by Sydney Smith are stunning ( and nearly push my review stars higher). They juxtapose a gray/brown palette of geometric lines for the monastery interior with the swirling calligraphy and brilliant color for the monk's art. A meditation, a bedtime b ...more
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A white cat named Pangur and a monk live together. At night, by candlelight the two work side by side. The monk quietly studies his books. The cat hunts mice along the walls, examining a mouse hole. The two do not disturb one another. At the end of the night, as day comes, they have both found what they were seeking. One searching for the joy of an answer to a puzzle and the other for the satisfaction of a successful hunt.

This picture book is a retelling of a classic Old Irish poem “Pangur Bán.”
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully illustrated version of a very short Old Irish poem written around the 9th century. The illustrations and Jo Ellen Bogart's spare, simple and quiet text beautifully capture the peace and solitude of the original work. (One illustration made me laugh out loud -- cat lovers will recognize the paw reaching under a door.)
The White Cat and the Monk is a quietly beautiful, meditative picturebook retelling of the Old Irish poem "Pangur Bán." Jo Ellen Bogart's simple, lyrical text and Sydney Smith's lovely, expressive illustrations work together very well in order to convey and to celebrate the simple joys of life and peaceful coexistence:

I love this story. "Pangur Ban" is a 9th century poem written by a monk, who compares his patient and solitary studies to his cat's patient stalking of mice. It has so much air in it, so much quiet peace, that it would work as a bedtime book - but it is so timeless that it could prompt let's-look-that-up inquiries into monastic life.

Sydney Smith, who also painted the contemplative Sidewalk Flowers, does AMAZING work here. The book begins with several wordless pages of the cat's progress through
Clare Vaughn
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Others have said it before, so I'll echo their words: this is a gorgeous, meditative, thought-inspiring watercolor masterpiece. It's quiet and insightful and based off of one of my favorite poems. I adored it.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A touching tale of a monk and his pet cat and their personal quests.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit, poetry
Satisfying retelling of old poem about an Irish monk and his cat.
Kevin Tran
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully crafted with words that shed light to mankind’s lonesomeness. The white fur cat represents the utmost greatness of what we called: love.
This retelling of an Old Irish poem features a cat and a monk who share a living space. While the cat waits patiently for a mouse, the monk painstakingly combs through his manuscripts. Both find what they are looking for even though their goals might be quite different. The watercolor and ink illustrations are quite lovely, showing as they do, the quiet companionship of a man and his animal companion. The book has a meditative quality about it that might prompt readers to reflect on how they fin ...more
Judy Croome
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A re-telling of a 9th century Irish poem which, by its very simplicity, captures the essence of Zen spiritual enlightenment through the relationship between a monk and his white cat.

Throughout these few elementary words and the delightful accompanying illustrations, neither cat nor monk dreams of glorious rewards for work done. They exist, finding joy in the execution of their everyday tasks: for the white cat, the pursuit of mice; for the monk, the pursuit of knowledge. Therein they find that
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Generally speaking, I avoid cats in all things. I am dangerously allergic to them, and cat videos and playful kittens fill me with dread. But I have loved for many years the thousand-year-old Irish poem that inspired this picture book. The illustrations are beautiful and evocative, and the tiny story has large themes: doing your work in peace; finding what you seek; having a sweet companion at your side.
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
A quiet contemplative read about a monk and his cat companion. Sydney Smith's watercolor and ink illustrations were the perfect match for a book with illuminated manuscripts. Does a great job of creating time and place.
Michael Earp
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book with a fascinating story behind it. It is a retelling of the poem 'Pangur Ban' written by an Irish Benedictine monk in the ninth century. I've always been interested in illuminated manuscripts, so Sydney Smith's illustrations really drew me in.
Love the poem (never read it before), love the juxtaposition of the poem with what is essentially a wordless comic, especially how Smith leads into the poem with the sequence of the cat going into the abbey. It helps to effectively provide the historical context for the poem .
Laura Harrison
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my top favorite picture books of the year. Definitely swoon worthy!
Marguerita Johnson
As I read this wee children's preschool book, I felt at peace and part of the story
Larka Fenrir
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really nice poem with outstanding drawings... the friendship between the cat and the monk (also used as a parallel of two similar lifestyles) is incredibly cute! Lovely reading.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book is very calming, and the story is beautifully retold by Bogart.
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Aww, that was sweet! Another NYT Best Picture Book, though, that makes me wonder if it's going to be appreciated more by adults than children...
Scott Fillner
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful illustrations and a beautiful interpretation of a ninth century poem. Two characters seeking knowledge in parallel ways. This will be a good anchor text when discussing comparisons.
Isa Lavinia
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it

I've loved Pangur Bán ever since I first heard of it back at uni in Medieval Literature, so I was pretty excited when I found this book!

This is a great way to introduce children to the poem, the writing is simple and the illustrations are cute.

However, I'll admit I've been spoiled by The Secret of Kells ... It's hard to follow up their Pangur Bán and the artistic beauty I've come to associate with the poem.

So I guess the inevitable comparison hurt my rating of this book, somewhat.

I do really
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. 5 for illustration, 4 for re-telling of the story.

I like the book as an adult. There are lots of subtle things that we can emotionally attach to ourselves. The seek of light, the discover of light. The accompanies that a white can can provide.

I love there are two lines in the story. Like a movie, two curves, parallel and merge sometimes, and each detangle at the end of the book.

I love the illustration that smith provided, the perfect palette that depicts a mid-age distant story. An
Quiet and meditative in tone, this book extols the virtues of a simple life, one of lifelong study, silent companionship and no expectations. But I find it hard to believe that children would like it. Unless a child is of a sober, shy nature, a book about a studious monk and his ever-patient cat might seem rather dull.

The illustrations are rather crude as well, tending to stark, somber lines around the figures, flat surroundings and colors reminding one of stones and wood.

There is little action
Ryan Laferney
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Version by W.H. Auden:

Pangur, white Pangur, How happy we are
Alone together, scholar and cat
Each has his own work to do daily;
For you it is hunting, for me study.
Your shining eye watches the wall;
My feeble eye is fixed on a book.
You rejoice, when your claws entrap a mouse;
I rejoice when my mind fathoms a problem.
Pleased with his own art, neither hinders the other;
Thus we live ever without tedium and envy.

The White Cat and the Monk is a wonderful retelling of the classic Old Irish poem
Ying Lee
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Based on an Irish poem, this picture book tells a story about a white cat showing up unexpectedly in the room of a monk who is reading for meaning and experiencing the challenge from every page of a book. As the night progresses, the white cat finally catches the prey, and the monk finally finds "light in the darkness" (unpaged). The written text is presented with a calm voice, while the illustrations capture many actions and motion of the white cat. Also, both the white cat and the monk are loo ...more
Gabriella Petrillo
I loved this book, the illustrations that the author provides is amazing. It tells of a monk and his white cat Pangur and the relationship they have. As the cat experiences joy the monk finds joy in his work. They both have a close relationship were one doesn't bother the other. As the monk is working, Pangur is working on catching a mouse. The story of these two is two cute that I have included it in my tutoring sessions to the kids that I read to. I definitively recommend this book and the qua ...more
Eneas Caro
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must for cat nerds, feline freaks.
The poem, the original, is a wonderful gem from medieval times, and this version, although not intengral, is a beautiful rendition of it. It's serene and thoroughly enjoyable, if only for the few minutes it lasts.

Good things are short, aren't they, sometimes? ...

The artwork is befitting, especially the central pages, a homage to works of yore.

Very recommended.
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