“The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws…”
How do we see the world? What ways do we see? Brendan Wenzel’s newest picture book that he both wrote and illustrated, They All Saw A Cat, is both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. What an amazing picture book. Perhaps comparable to Eric Carle’s Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See, it takes the concept of animals and the way they see the world, and makes the book almost a meta-fictive experience.
The cat, a familiar feline, walks through the pages of the book, and each illustration spread is an exploration in the way we see the world, and which lens we see it through. When a child sees the cat, the cat smiles, its tail curled around the blue sneakers of the kid on the page. We can only see the child from the waist down, and the cat takes center stage. When the dog sees the cat, the dog is frowning, and the cat looks like an unpleasant creature, something to be chased. A mouse sees a cat as a monster, while a bird sees a cat as a small speck from high in the sky.
Some of my favorite illustrations where more unorthodox ways that animals “see”—such as a bat using echolocation, or a snake, who only sees swirls of energy. Vibrant, alive, and visceral, Wenzel’s illustrations are a lesson in science and philosophy.
But while the subject matter can become a metaphor for how we see the world, at its heart, They All Saw A Cat is poetic and child friendly.
and A DOG
and A FOX
and A FISH
and A MOUSE
and A BEE
and A BIRD
and A FLEA
and A SNAKE
and A SKUNK
and A WORM
and A BAT.
The cat knew them all, and they all knew the cat.
The rhyme in this book is so perfected, its positively Seussian. Wenzel has untapped the formula for what makes a picture book work, between the meticulously crafted illustrations that are so varied from page to page, and the consistent rhyme throughout.
Children and parents alike will love this book, and it will be available this month on August 30.
Catch the interview with Brendan Wenzel here!