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The White Cat and the Monk

Written by Jo Ellen Bogart

Illustrated by Sydney Smith

  • 32 Pages
  • 9781554987801
  • 10.5" x 8"
  • from grade PK to grade 3
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Cats
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Europe



Publication Date March 01, 2016

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 simple and elegant narration and Sydney Smith’s classically inspired images, this contemplative story pays tribute to the wisdom of animals and the wonders of the natural world.

Short-listed for the Governor General's Literary Award, Young People's Literature – Illustrated Books 2016

Selected for the The New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books 2016

Selected for the Quill & Quire Reviewer Pick 2016

Selected for the CCBC Best Books for Children and Teens, starred selection 2016

Selected for the NCTE Notable Poetry List 2017

Selected for the The NP99: The Best Books of the Year 2016

Selected for the SLJ's Best of 2016 2016

Selected for the Brain Pickings' Best Children's Books of 2016 2016

Selected for the CBC Best Books of 2016 2016

Selected for the USBBY's Outstanding International Books List 2017

Selected for the Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices List 2017

Selected for the Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year 2017


Jo Ellen Bogart
Jo Ellen was born in Houston, Texas, and received degrees in elementary education and psychology from the University of Texas in Austin. Her best-selling children’s books have been nominated for and won many different awards, including the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award. Her picture book Gifts was selected for the TD Grade One Book Giveaway program, as well as the IBBY Honor List. She lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith was born in rural Nova Scotia and has been drawing from an early age. Since graduating from NSCAD University, he has illustrated multiple children’s books, including the highly acclaimed wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, conceived by Jon Arno Lawson, which won a Governor General’s Award, was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book and has been long-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal. He is also the illustrator of Grant and Tillie Go Walking by Monica Kulling and The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart, both highly acclaimed. Sydney has received a number of other awards for his illustrations, including the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration. He now lives in Toronto and works in a shared studio space in Chinatown.


Star Review

"A stunningly illustrated meditative ode to the simple joys of human-animal companionship and the pursuit of knowledge." School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Star Review

"... a sophisticated and subtle story about the pursuit of joy—one that will easily resonate with readers young and old." Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Star Review

"If ever there was a book that could calm a child and draw her into meditative contemplation (perhaps right before bed?), The White Cat and the Monk is it." Quill and Quire, STARRED REVIEW

Star Review

"...lyrical yet easily understood...Contentment and joy are reflected in text and image" Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

Star Review

"The watercolor-and-ink artwork has both heft and humor, especially in the joyful depictions of the manuscripts...Readers who consider the story’s underlying messages about necessities, companionship, and fulfillment will come away enriched." Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

"If you want to treat yourself to a superb picture book, treat yourself to this one." Kirkus Review

"Truly a wonderful book, THE WHITE CAT AND THE MONK expresses the richness of the relationship between the two characters." Canadian Review of Materials

"The adaptation . . . is as unostentatious as the watercolor-and-ink illustrations, which meld a medieval spirit with a modern sense of cartooning, a juxtaposition that is fresh and seems entirely right." Horn Book

"The text’s subtle moral is timeless but also sings with elegiac timeliness — what a wonderful counterpoint to modern life’s hamster wheel of achievement and approval, this idea that there is poetry in every pursuit executed with purposefulness and savored with uncompetitive joy." The New York Times

"Smith . . . imbues the text with contemporary visual language through his singular, elegantly minimalist graphic novel aesthetic." Brain Pickings

"This is a great book for any group of readers . . . a great book to introduce to kids who may not think they like poetry." The Children's Writer's Guild

"Author Jo Ellen Bogart has provided an unembellished, thoughtful text that pays tribute to the value of perseverance and dedication for one's vocation, be it humble or exalted." Canadian Children's Book News

"The stylized artwork captures the timeless beauty of the poem in this simple yet meaningful picturebook, highly recommended." Midwest Book Review