Review (Plus): ‘They All Saw a Cat’
Bookshelf Blurb: I know how I see a cat. You know how you see a cat. Now we can know how other animals see a cat through their animal eyes, but at the end of the story, you have to ask, how does a cat see a cat?
America’s Review: Each animal has a different visual perception of the world around them. The illustrations created by Brendan Wenzel in They All Saw a Cat display the unique view of a cat through a variety of species. As a cat prows through the world with his whiskers, ears and paws, the animals see him in a variety of ways: as colorful dots as a bee has a limited vision, or in the colors they are themselves–black and white like a skunk. The worms merely see a dark shadow cross their path as they are under ground and the cat is passing them above on the ground. Each different animal sees the cat as a friend, foe, or possibly a mere part of the passing scenery.
With each turn of the page, the reader is given the opportunity to also see how the cat is viewed. It isn’t until the end of the story, when the reader is asked the simple question, how does the cat view himself?
In the classroom: As you turn the pages of this book, you can ask your young reader (actually this book would be a great read for the middle school age as well as the elementary audience) why the cat is viewed in this manner? The illustrations differ from page to page, so the discussion should vary base on the drawings given on the pages associated with the different species.
The given perspectives of how the different animals “all saw a cat” leads itself to a simple classroom discussion: how do we see ourselves verse how others view us? Ask multiple questions defining “others.” Others can be peers, teachers, parents, family members, etc. Do these perspectives differ based on the environments of our relationships?
At the conclusion of the book, your audience will have differing opinions on how the cat views itself. Will the cat see itself as a shadow, as spots, as a black and white vision? These answers can also reveal how your reader views themselves. These discussions (or journal entry for your older audience) can allow you a different perspective of your student. Sometimes this type of story can open discussions that aren’t answered through a direct morning question, “How are you?” Fine is a common answer, but with a story about a cat and views of animals, you may find a different answer.
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel (Chronicle Books | 9781452150130 | August 30, 2016)