For today’s review I chose a title that reminds me of the arrival of one of our furry family members.
“They all saw a cat” by Brendan Wenzel is a funny, thoughtful and smart story about how perspective shapes what we see. Beautifully illustrated and imaginative, this picture book shows kids and adults that even when things stay the same, they can look very different depending on your point of view or the circumstances surrounding it.
In the story the cat arrives, just like ours did: “The cat walked through the world with its whiskers, ears, and paws...”, a familiar sentence that is repeated throughout the book, designed to keep kids engaged.
Our cat “Marvolo” came to us unexpectedly and under very funny circumstances. Nobody really expected him, nobody was prepared to have a cat in our house.
Each family member perceived and welcomed him in their own unique way.
My daughter showed her disappointment right away. She had dreamed of having a tiny kitten and not a giant four year old Maine Coon who reminded her of a raccoon more than her cherished vision of a playful and adorable fluff ball.
My son was in a state of shock and awe, continuously shaking his head in disbelief that I had spontaneously decided to open my heart to another furry friend in the house.
Then there was my husband. The cat took note of his territorial stance and classic male competitive streak and promptly hid from him.
Our dog was...
Questioning my loyalty?
“They all saw a cat" is thought provoking and a great conversation starter to talk to kids about their feelings but even more than that, it opens up a conversation about how they feel they are seen by others.
In this book many animals perceive the cat and in the end, the reader is left with an open ended question, a self reflection of the cat. It’s just a cat. Perceived differently by each animal in the story.
For older children I would go as far as using the book as a conflict resolution idea. Haven’t we all heard from a teary eyed kid: "X...said, she/he doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.” We’ve probably all asked our kids, “What happened?” and then learned about the different perspectives in their story.
If you want to dive even a little deeper then you’ll find that this story is also about science. You can discuss animals’ living environments, a bee’s eye sight, the food chain, senses…or train your memory by matching the animals and their feelings according to the story (listening skills!).
This story is a celebration of observation, self reflection, curiosity, empathy and imagination. It’s an appreciation of everyone and their contribution to a community.
Here are four conversation sparking questions that can create greater awareness around the concept of perception for your child:
How does your mom see you?
What about your teacher?
Has your behavior changed the way your friends look at you?
Why do you think this person acted a certain way?
Title: “They all saw a cat” Author: Brendan Wenzel Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 30, 2016) Recommended for children ages 3 to 9 Hardcover: $23.99, available at our Kinder Books store. Categories: self awareness, perception, animal lover,
science, listening skills, communication