They All Saw A Cat – Perfect Picture Book Friday

28101612Title: The All Saw A Cat

Author & Illustrator: Brendan Wenzel

 Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2016

Ages: 4-8

Themes: perspective, observation, curiosity, science, empathy

Opening:

The cat walked through the world,                                                                                   with its whiskers, ears and paws…

Synopsis:

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.)

Activities/resources:           

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.

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18 Responses to They All Saw A Cat – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Andrea Mack says:

    A simple idea that makes an innovative book. I wasn’t as engaged as I thought I might be, given everything I’d heard about it, but it’s a really good one to read to students to talk about different perspectives!

  2. The SLJ listed this book as one of its favorite. Now that I’ve read your review, I understand why. I love the concept behind this this story and the wonderful artwork!
    Perfect selection for you to review!

    • Joanna says:

      Thanks for the SLJ fact, Pat. If I were still an elementary school teacher, I would be using this in my classroom for sure.

  3. Gabi Snyder says:

    I’ve been wanting to read this since I heard Matthew Winner singing its praises. I’ll definitely check this out — to share with my kids and to use as a mentor text for me!

  4. This reminds me of a creative writing assignment back in my early school days in which the teacher asked our class to choose an object in the room and describe it as if we were seeing it for the first time. I think children will enjoy this book so well they won’t realize they are learning at the same time. I’m very curious about the page turns and the ending. Well, I’m off to the library now to check it out!

  5. When I first read the title of this book, I knew it would be one of those we wish we had written ourselves. I was not disappointed when I finally read it weeks ago. This book is deserving of attention and use in our classrooms. That, and it’s just plain cool. Thanks for the review.

  6. a wonderful book to read – makes you pay more attention to the things we see. Or think we see.

  7. Very interesting book. It reminded me of my grandfather’s story about the blind men who described an elephant (based on what part they felt). I was skeptical at first, but reading it a few times, I fell in love with the simplicity and complexity of the book. Thanks for highlighting it. 🙂

  8. Keila Dawson says:

    Such a book. Perception is everything. A perfect way to explain the concept to children. The artwork is outstanding too.

  9. Great review, Joanna…I actually had this book out from the library…but didn’t get to read it.
    I appreciate you pointing out that it makes a great mentor text…I will defiinitely take it out again…and this time, I promise I will read it. 😉

  10. I’ve heard so much about this book and am looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the review!

  11. There’s a lot been said about this book. The concept is amazing and will do well in schools.

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