Lynn: Brendan Wenzel’s excellent They All Saw a Cat (2016) relies on the brilliantly simple concept of a how variety of subjects perceives the same object in different ways. The object in question is a cat, a cat who “walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears and paws.”
Each page-turn reveals a wide, two-page spread showing how various beings see the cat: a child thinks it’s cute, while a dog finds it to be a skinny, ugly creature, shown slinking across the page. A fox perceives it as a tubby, toothsome treat, while a mouse sees a horrifying monster with terrible teeth and claws. It is fascinating to watch each perspective unfold.
Understanding point-of-view is an important skill for children, and not an easy one to teach. Wenzel’s book provides a terrific way to introduce and demonstrate this concept in such a child-centered way. Read this book to a class, then have students choose a subject and create a perspective picture of their own.
Cindy: While They All Saw a Cat is certainly aimed at children, I can’t wait to show it to my middle-school art teachers, who will be sure to appreciate its use of perspective. Lynn’s suggestion for having students create their own illustration would certainly work for older students, particularly those learning to use different media; the illustration note on the copyright page says Wenzel “rendered [the drawings] in almost everything imaginable, including colored pencil, oil pastels, acrylic paint, watercolor, charcoal, Magic Marker, good old number 2 pencils, and even an iBook.” My art teachers are going to appreciate that range, and so will students. A discussion on why Wenzel chose specific media for each subject could lead to an interesting discussion: Which animals see in black and white? Which “see” through other senses, like vibration?
Humor abounds in ways both large and small. How a goldfish sees the cat is bound to bring giggles, as will other details of the cat’s walk through his world. This is a perfect title from Chronicle Books, a publisher whose logo is a pair of eyeglasses and whose slogan is, “We see things differently.” Indeed!