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

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,393 ratings  ·  248 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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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  1,393 ratings  ·  248 reviews

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Start your review of The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Bán”
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture, books, medieval
Text and illustrations are both perfect.

Karen Witzler
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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. ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Young Cat Lovers / Readers Seeking Picture-Books Set in Medieval Europe
The narrator of this poetic picture-book, a medieval monk and scholar who searches for meaning and answers in his precious books, observes his white cat, Pangur Ban, and compares his own quest with the mouse-hunting skills of his beloved feline...

The figure of Pangur Bán, a beautiful white cat whose talent for mousing was immortalized in a ninth-century poem, written in Old Irish by an anonymous Irish monk, has appeared in a number of children's books and films. British author Fay Sampson has wr
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.”
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A thousand years ago an Irish monk stopped in his work to regard the cat keeping him company in his cell. He marveled at all the things they had in common though one was an animal hunting mice and the other a man hunting answers to the mysteries of the universe. A thousand years ago an Irish monk stopped his studies and wrote a short, sweet, gentle poem about the beauty in small moments. Petting a cat and just being present in the moment.

And it strikes me as quietly amazing that a thousand year
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:

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.) ...more
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 re
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. ...more
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
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: poetry, childrens-lit
Satisfying retelling of old poem about an Irish monk and his cat.
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really nice rendition of the poem, and the art brought the tale beautifully to life. A nice touching tale of the simple but happy coexistence between a monk and a cat.
Silvis Library
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Really nice rendition of the poem, and the watercolor art beautifully brought the tale to life. A nice, touching tale of the simple but happy coexistence between a monk and a cat.

~ Ashley
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.
Zulekha Saqib
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books, 2017
❝ 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 ❞

in the ninth century, an Irish monk wrote a poem about himself and his cat, Pangur Bán.. 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝔀𝓱𝓲𝓽𝓮 𝓬𝓪𝓽 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓶𝓸𝓷𝓴 is a gorgeous recreation of that poem.. it illustrates the companionship between a monk and his white cat, on how they enjoy their own personal pursuits but in the silent company of each other..

this picture book resonated with me so much and I w
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. ...more
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. ...more
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 .
What a beautiful book. The illustrations and lettering are gorgeous. I'm not sure it would work well for story time though it might do for a cat storytime - however, I do think it would be perfect for sharing with a very small group or one on one so that time could be taken with the pictures. ...more
Marguerita Johnson
As I read this wee children's preschool book, I felt at peace and part of the story ...more
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.
Laura Harrison
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my top favorite picture books of the year. Definitely swoon worthy!
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... ...more
Larka Fenrir
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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.
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Recommended To Read With Children 1 1 Jan 19, 2021 01:28AM  

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Jo Ellen Bogart has written 20 books for young readers, including The White Cat and the Monk, which was named a Best Poetry Book by the National Council of teachers of English. Her bestselling books include Jeremiah Learns to Read, Daniel's Dog, and Gifts. Jo Ellen has won the Ruth Schwartz Award and has been shortlisted for the Mr. Christie's Book Award. ...more

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