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They All Saw a Cat
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Brendan Wenzel's They All Saw a Cat is a simple story about a concept that can be an intellectual reach for young kids: that everyone has a different perspective. The simple text contrasts with the pages of wildly variant art depicting distinct points of view -- how a dog sees a cat, then a fox, a mouse, and a bird. The spare text and hypnotic refrain make this an excellent candidate for repeated bedtime reads, while the art provides lots for young brains to process and chew on.
What's the story?
THEY ALL SAW A CAT follows a belled house cat as it walks "through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws." After a young child pets it, it's seen by a dog, then a fox, a fish, a mouse, a bee, a bird, a flea, a snake, a skunk, a worm, and a bat, each providing an opportunity for the cat to show the unique perspective of the animal that's viewing it. Finally the cat "came to the water," and the reader is invited to "imagine what it saw" when it peered in.
Is it any good?
A sleek prowling cat is seen by other animals -- some predator, some prey, each with a distinct point of view -- in this artfully simple story that's a powerful meditation on perception. Since young kids are developmentally egocentric, not because they're selfish but because they haven't yet developed the ability to consider other points of view, They All Saw a Cat can be an excellent introduction to the concept that we all see the world from our own unique perspective. It might even prompt a kid's "aha!" moment.
The rhythmic text makes for a mesmerizing read-aloud, and the art varies wildly with each perspective, while introducing scientific concepts such as a bee's pixelated mosaic-like vision and a bat's echolocation. This smart, thoughtful book is a pleasure for kids and parents alike.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the various perspectives in They All Saw a Cat. Why is the fish's perspective blurry? Why does the cat look like a looming monster to the mouse?
How does the illustrator use color and size and line to show perspective?
How does the cat see the other creatures? How does it see a mouse, a dog, a fox, and a bird?
- Author: Brendan Wenzel
- Illustrator: Brendan Wenzel
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Chronicle Books
- Publication date: August 30, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 2 - 5
- Number of pages: 44
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Caldecott Medal and Honors
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.