They All Saw a Cat

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
They All Saw a Cat Book Poster Image
Everyone sees differently in clever look at point of view.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Concept that all individuals see the world from distinct points of view, shaped by their species and individual experience. The compound eyes of bees produce a pixelated picture. Some animals see different colors from the ones we do -- or no colors. Bats use echolocation instead of sight.

Positive Messages

Have respect for all creatures and their distinct experiences of the world and points of view. Respect diversity and the natural world.

Positive Role Models & Representations
Violence & Scariness

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.

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Parent of a 3-year-old Written byJamie B. April 3, 2018

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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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and animal tales

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