They All Saw a Cat

Written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
44 pages  •  Published 2016 (Chronicle Books)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Late preschool through 2nd grade.
Publisher's Summary: 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. When you see a cat, what do you see?
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: This book is, at face value, about how different animals see things (i.e., a cat) differently, but it also teaches the concept of different perspectives. It’s a beautiful and clever introduction to the social skill of perspective taking.
Would a child like it? This book is really fun and engaging. It’s particularly appealing to animal lovers and, of course, it prominently features a cat.
Tone: Subtle, observant
Story Quality: On one level, this is a very simple story about a cat walking about. On another level, it’s about how the same thing (i.e., a cat) can look different depending on the perspective (e.g., a boy’s, a mouse’s, an ant’s). On a third level, the book’s metaphor introduces the idea that the same situation can be interpreted entirely differently depending on whose perspective is being considered. The story works really well and ends on a poignant note about our own perspectives of ourselves.
Illustrations: The illustrations are the heart of this story. Beautifully collaged watercolor and colored pencil illustrations that show how the cat looks from different animals’ perspectives. Highlights include a huge, pixelated cat, as seen by a bee, and a giant blurry cat, as seen by a fish in a bowl. So fun.
Representation: A White boy (labeled “a child”) is pictured as one of the viewers of the cat. The rest of the book shows the cat from the perspective of different non-gendered animals (e.g., a dog, a fox, a mouse, a bee, etc.).
Psychological Practices: This is a really fun way to introduce the idea of different perspectives, which is an important first step to the social skill of perspective taking. The different animals in the book see the cat very differently, literally. Furthermore, the animals relate differently to the cat. The mouse is afraid of it, the dog wants to chase it, and the boy reaches down to pet it. It’s a great way to start talking about how everyone experiences things differently, and how one’s perspective is often not the only “correct” one.
Concerns: None.

Watch a Read-Aloud: YouTube (not affiliated with Dr. Annie's Bookshelf)