The White Cat and the Monk – Jo Ellen Bogart

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  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Lexile Measure: 660
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books (March 30, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554987806
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554987801

EXCERPT from Brain Pickings interview:

“If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work,” Muriel Spark counseled, “you should acquire a cat.” Long before the cat became a modern literary muse, a monk whose identity remains a mystery immortalized his beloved white cat named Pangur. Sometime in the ninth century, somewhere in present-day southern Germany, this solitary scholar penned a beautiful short poem in Old Irish, titled “Pangur Bán” — an ode to the parallel pleasures of man and feline as one pursues knowledge and the other prey, and to how their quiet companionship amplifies their respective joys.

The poem has been translated and adapted many times over the centuries (perhaps most famously by W.H. Auden), but nowhere more delightfully than in [this book] by writer Jo Ellen Bogart and illustrator Sydney Smith.


  • Short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Awards, Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books
  • A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book
  • Brain Pickings’ Best Children’s Books of 2016

Rationale for Inclusion: The White Cat and the Monk tells a tale of an ancient Irish poem about Pangor the cat,  bringing to children a culture and era children don’t often see in picture books. The monk works diligently over his holy manuscripts while the cat works diligently at catching a mouse. The monk sees his cat as a study in contentment, hard work, diligence, and devotion to the self. The artwork is mixed media, with beautiful hues of blue watercolor depicting movement. This picture book should be included in any children’s room because of how perfectly it captures a time long ago for children who may be curious about the history of books.

The White Cat and the Monk read aloud by ConnectPiaL:



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