They All Saw a Cat

As a striped cat with a red collar and golden bell walks through the world, all sorts of other creatures see that cat through their own lenses, and, page by page, the cat transforms accordingly. It's an ingenious idea, gorgeously realized in Brendan Wenzel's (Some Bugs; Beastly Babies) author-illustrator debut, They All Saw a Cat.

From the child's perspective, the bell-collared cat is big and furry, with a friendly, cartoonish feline face and a long, ankle-circling tail, the purring all but audible. The text is spare, but lilting: "The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws.../ and the child saw A CAT." On the next spread, "the dog saw A CAT," and the scenario is not nearly as cozy this time. Here the cat is elongated, mostly limbs and tail, stealthy and suspicious. The cat's bell is huge compared to its body, as a keen-eared dog might perceive it. After a quick chase from a fox, whose fierce stare reduces it to a softly rounded, adorably edible scaredy cat, the feline resumes its more dignified cat shape and keeps on walking.

Each delightfully composed spread is a dramatic commentary on the power of point of view, and the artwork is a splendid showcase of eclectic styles and techniques, rendered in "colored pencil, oil pastels, acrylic paint, watercolor, charcoal, Magic Marker, good old number 2 pencils, and even an iBook." And so we have They All Saw a Cat, a picture book that seems so light on its little cat feet but that goes right to the core of human experience. A keeper. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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