The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart

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The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney Smith (InfoSoup)

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.” It is a tale that is contemplative and quiet. It offers space to simply be, a world of solitude and study, and also one that is filled with richness of the most simple forms. Bogart captures the power of a man’s simple monastic life accompanied by an animal companion. In particular, it is the interplay of their evening activities that demonstrate the impact of the natural world on even the quietest of evenings.

Smith’s illustrations evoke a period of time that is filled with illuminated texts, thick stone monastery walls and the light of several candles. They are done with rich blacks and subtle colors, the light playing across the page as the cat seeks dark corners.

A beautiful look at the power of contemplation, mindfulness and cats. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.