Picture Book Review: They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .
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?
“The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws…” and so begins the incredible experience of Brendan Wenzel’s debut (as author and illustrator) of the picture book, They All Saw a Cat. They All Saw a Cat is one of those titles I not only cannot wait share with readers but also read aloud at storytime(s). Impressive in how it turns a substantial subject like perspective into something so wonderfully accessible (and unforgettable) for a younger audience, They All Saw a Cat makes for terrific reading for a variety of ages. There is just so much in this picture book that speaks to imagination, interpretation and the pure joy of appreciating artwork!
From the child’s view of the fluffy, big-eyed kitty, to a mouse’s terrifying Munch-like monster view of the cat, to a bee’s pointillism-like view of the cat, readers see and begin to appreciate the multitudes of perspectives and points of view that exist in the world. Wenzel makes terrific use of repetition in text here with: “the cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws” and “Yes, they all saw the cat”, wonderfully reiterating those basic descriptions which we, the reader, understand to be common about the cat and that we are all, in fact, seeing the same cat! But then with each introduction of new ‘character’/viewpoint (e.g. from a snake to a worm) the reader is in for a wonderful visual treat of how differently another being views the same object.
Overall, Brendan Wenzel’s picture book debut is stunning- I can’t sing the praises of this stand-out read enough. Great for a quiet read or a more contemplative observation of art styles; for a discussion about visual diversity in animals; or for sharing aloud at storytime, this is another wonderful example in picture books of when visual feast meets tailor-made text to make for an excellent and inventive experience. If you are not familiar with Wenzel’s previous work, I would definitely recommend taking at look at his works as illustrator in collaborative picture book projects such as Some Bugs and Beastly Babies (among others). You won’t soon forget his radiant, vivacious illustrative style!
I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.