It’s a common misconception that picture books are only for young children and as a result, sadly, older children are seldom exposed to picture books or visual narratives at school and at home. Brendan Wenzel’s picture book They All Saw A Cat would be enjoyed by children of all ages and offers a wealth of interesting avenues for discussion, exploration and learning.
It tells the story of a ‘The cat [who]walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears and paws’. Each creature the cat encounters sees the cat very differently and Wenzel’s stunning illustrations allow the reader to see the cat from a new perspective each time they turn the page.
For the mouse, the cat is red and black, all claws and fearsome eyes. For the flea, the cat is a massive mass of hairs and for the bee, with its capacity to see individual flowers while travelling at a high speed, the cat it sees is made up of lots and lots of individual dots of colour.
The text is simple and rhythmic allowing for the reader’s full attention to be drawn to the beautiful illustrations and to see ‘the cat’ in all its different forms. All these differing perspectives, provoke thoughts about how animals and humans see things and offers an insightful look at the power of perspective.
With older children a conversation about perspective could be investigated in quite some depth. Their attention, perhaps more than that of the younger child, may be drawn to Wenzel’s italicising of each animal and how this might make the reader begin to think about language in a broader sense. It could provide a spark for a philosophical conversation about what makes a cat a cat, and thereby what makes a human a human?
This beautiful picture book is full of imagination and depth and provokes questioning about how we see ourselves and the world around us in a creative and fun way for children of all ages.
It has something for the budding philosopher, artist and scientist in all of us.