Friday, January 26, 2018

They All Saw a Cat (by Brendan Wenzel)

Author:  Brendan Wenzel

Illustrator:  Brendan Wenzel

Target Ages:  3 and up

Genre:  Picture Book

Awards:  Caldecott Honor Book

Publisher Summary:  When you see a cat, what do you see?  In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see.

First Lines: 
The cat walked through the world,
with its whiskers, ears, and paws…
and the child saw A CAT,
and the dog saw A CAT,
and the fox saw A CAT.
Yes, they all saw the cat.

The striking multi-media pictures in They All Saw A Cat will thrill young readers while expanding their understanding of others. Each fascinating perspective can prompt a discussion. Children can evaluate why the artist made the cat look skinny in one picture and fat with an emphasis on his bell in another.  Also, the use of color varies greatly, making each illustration a feast for the senses and ripe for conversation.

On a concrete level, it is fascinating to get the vantage point of animals and insects. There are emotional differences (like how the mouse sees the cat as  monstrous) and physical ones (like the bee seeing in dots).  Also, the vantage point impacts the view: To the bird, the cat is a small speck, and to the flea, the cat is an enormous mountain. This book allows readers to imaginatively see life through another's perspective.  

On a more abstract level, the book prompts a deeper discussion on how perspective impacts perception.  This perspective can come from cultural, familial, community, and individual experiences.  It explains how two people can witness the same event, yet view it in a completely different way.  Because of the larger message, this book could be used to springboard a discussion with older children. 

For younger children, this abstract idea will be harder to grasp. However, they can begin to understand that an object, for instance, is not inherently good or bad, valuable or worthless.  It is about how we view it. 

They All Saw A Cat is simple, yet profound children's book. Overall, the illustrations and thought-provoking story make it worthy of your bookshelf.

Ideas for Extension Activities at Home or Lesson Plans for Teachers:
  • Lesson Opener:  Show one or more pictures or objects that will likely get varied responses from the children.  Prompt the children for replies. Depending on the age of the children, they may raise hands to different prompts (like, dislike, or neutral), words, or pictures (smiley, sad, or neutral faces).   Tally the responses.  Spring board into the book by discussing how we all have different perspectives.
  • Math:  Use the responses in the lesson opener to create a graph.
  • Science Research: Learn how various creatures see objects.   
  • Science Exploration: Using keen observation skills, discuss or draw nature finds. 
  • Social Studies: Discuss how different perspectives impact how a person sees a situation or other person.  
  • Writing: Write a simple sentence from the cat’s or other creature’s perspective. The cat saw the ____, the ______ and the ______.  Then, illustrate it the way you think the cat (or other animal) sees each one.
  • Choral Reading: The repetitive text is ideal for choral reading or audience participation. 
  • Reading: Limited, simple vocabulary for early reader practice.
  • Art:  Complete a fun cat craft like the ideas here and here.

 For Perfect Picture Book Friday, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog. 


  1. This is one of my all time favorites. A beautifully done examination of perspective. Great review.


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