So this is a roundup of various picture books featuring cats (and some mice) that I loved and therefore want to share with everyone because of the joy of reading children’s literature as an adult. (See LitHub for a review of Wild Things also.)
First on the list is The White Cat and the Monk, which has been on my to-read list for a while. It recently made its way back into my periphery and so I decided to finally scratch one title off that ever-growing list and bring it home.
The White Cat and the Monk is one of many retellings of a poem titled Pangur Bán, penned anonymously sometime in the 9th c. in Old Irish. It’s a meditation on the relationship between the white cat and the scholar monk and how their daily activities parallel each other despite being so disparate.
My first exposure to the book was through a review on BrainPickings, which made me want to pick it up immediately, what with the sumptuous illustrations and glowing review (and of course, let’s not kid ourselves: the cat), and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The pace is slow, but in a measured way, such that even though by the end of the poem we haven’t strayed far from the room in which the monk resides, the reader is still left with a sense of accomplishment. Not much that is tangible has been completed perhaps, but there is a sense that something has been accomplished, and that we now in a sense have a greater understanding of the world at large.