[DiverseKidLit] Monks, Cats, and Meditation in 2016 Picturebooks

Myra here.

Our theme for #DiverseKidLit in February is Love. Please consider sharing diverse books and resources that support love and families. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

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We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, March 4th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current month is Love. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • March 4th and 18th: Changing Seasons. As we eagerly await the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern, let’s share favorite books and resources on the seasons.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit is Svenja’s Multicultural Book of the Month: The Case for Loving. This picture book brings Richard and Mildred Loving’s Supreme Court case to a younger audience in an authentic and interesting way.

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When I borrowed quite a number of 2016 picturebooks from the library, I noticed that these two seem to pair well together. What is it, indeed, about monks and cats that seem to inspire quiet and meditation?


img_9545The Cat From Hunger Mountain

Written and Illustrated by: Ed Young
Published by: Philomel Books, 2016
ISBN: 0399172785 (ISBN13: 9780399172786)Borrowed a copy from the Jurong West Public Library. Book Photos taken by me. 

As I was thinking of the best way to describe this book, the word parable comes to mind. It has  that folktale-fable vibe to it about bad creatures receiving its comeuppance in the end, and how good will eventually triumph.

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This story introduces young readers to a proud, greedy, and abominably-wealthy Lord Cat who lived in Hunger Mountain. And just like most creatures who are holding high positions of power and influence, Lord Cat’s greed is insatiable – as evidenced in his expensive golden clothing to lavish meals prepared by the finest chefs.

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And since he can not abide half-empty pots of rice, he threw them away. It was a life of wastefulness and outright profligacy – until the land suffered from an unexplained drought that lasted for over two years. This proud Lord Cat was reduced to a beggar whose wealth could not spare him from the loss of what nature provides.

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As Lord Cat wandered around the city, starving, looking for some place to eat, he heard of a blessed monk who provided free food to hungry and homeless creatures such as himself. The story of how the monk came upon the food he distributes for free to those who are in need is something that deserves to be thought about a second, third, even fourth time. A piercing tale with a clear moral about the dangers of wastefulness – complemented by Ed Young’s signature collage art.

The White Cat And The Monkimg_9550

Written by: Jo Ellen Bogart Illustrated by: Sydney Smith
Published by: Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, 2016
ISBN: 1554987806 (ISBN13: 9781554987801). Borrowed a copy from the Jurong West Public Library. Book Photos taken by me. 

The Author’s Note found at the back of the book indicates that this is a retelling of a poem called Pangur Ban written by an Irish Benedictine monk, whose name has been lost in history.

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From what historians could gather, the monk must have written the poem while he was in southern Germany at the Reichenau Abbey. The poem has since then been translated into different languages over the years, as it allowed a glimpse into the mind of a scholar and his pet as he ruminates about the life of words in a quiet world.

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Frankly, I did not expect to love this as much as I did – but I was floored by the typography, the quiet contemplation of a scholarly life, and the muted earthy tones that suggest a life grounded in diligent study surrounded by “the peaceful pursuit of knowledge.” Honestly, what’s not to love?

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I find it to be a profound meditation on a rich life surrounded by books, the companionable solitude with a beloved pet who has its own equally-weighty pursuits, and the search for meaning and light in what once was dark.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts
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Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
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Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
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Jane @ Rain City Librarian
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Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
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Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
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Myra @ Gathering Books
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Guest Hosts for February

Gauri @ Kitaab World
an online bookstore for South Asian children’s books, toys and games
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Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
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Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

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3 Comments on [DiverseKidLit] Monks, Cats, and Meditation in 2016 Picturebooks

  1. I love The White Cat and the Monk too – and I hadn’t spotted Ed Young’s new book so thank you for pointing it out!

    Like

  2. I adore The White Cat and the Monk! And it’s a book that seems to pair well with others — in my stack of picture books, it seemed to go naturally with Magic in the Margins, W. Nikola-Lisa’s delightful book about medieval bookmaking.

    Like

  3. As a cat lover, I heartily approve of this post! I love the two very different artistic styles, both so visually striking!

    Like

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