Title: The All Saw A Cat
Author & Illustrator: Brendan Wenzel
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2016
Themes: perspective, observation, curiosity, science, empathy
The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears and paws…
The cat continues to walk through all the pages just like this. It is seen by a child, a dog, and a fox. It is seen by a fish, a mouse, and a bee. It is seen by a bird, a flea, a snake, a skunk, a worm, and a bat. Every creature sees something a little different. For a dog, the cat is perceived through the lens of its typical species interaction. For worms and bats the cat is only visible through the ways in which it moves through space (vibrations). At the end the cat comes to some water, “and imagine what it saw?”
Why I like this book:
This book implicitly asks the reader, “When you see a cat, what do you see?” It is a brilliant and stunning book on perspective, empathy and also science. This is a book whose concepts the very young will grasp easily, though I would certainly use this if I were teaching theory of knowledge to 11th grade International baccalaureate students too! I will stick my neck out and say I think this is an award winner.
This book I would use as a mentor text to teach the art of a great picture book. It has:
- great page turns
- snappy one sentence ending
- contrast of double paged spreads with lots of white space and those with none and vibrant
- simple short sentences using two sets of repetition
- a masterful implicit message
- stunning art work of the various perceptions of this cat yet the cat clearly is the same throughout these visual transformations
- layers of learning
- amazing pacing as groups of perspectives unfold (the first three views are potential predators; the second three are potential prey.; the final six are simple observers.)
This book begs the question what does “X” really look like and this will be an inevitable discussion following a reading. The seeds of empathy are planted and if you want to take the discussion further with older children, you can indeed look at some classroom, local or global problems that occur from us all seeing the world so differently.
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.