Sunday 12 June 2016

The White Cat and the Monk

The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney Smith (Walker Books)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 9781406372977

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Reading the origins of the poem retold in this picture book for all ages, is just as delightful as reading the story. The poem was discovered in the margins of a manuscript in a monastery in Austria. It is said to have been written around the nineteenth century by an Irish monk. There is also an Irish version of the poem to be discovered.

The monk has dedicated his life to learning. His days are filled with study and discovery. He has a roommate, a white cat called Pangur who is as dedicated to his pursuits as the monk to his. Mouse-catching is Pangur’s occupation.

One does not bother or interfere with the other. They each search for something. One finds his prey, while the other finds the ‘light in the darkness’.

Exquisitely illustrated images are by the talented and expressive Sydney Smith of Sidewalk Flowers. The hand-lettered text is ideally suited to the classical presentation. Its themes reflect the natural world occupied by animals, and the internal world that occupies the monk.

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