Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Story About Perspective

What would happen if we could see the world through someone else’s eyes. This is the question that Brendan Wenzel explores in the picture book They All Saw a Cat from Chronicle Books. What would happen if we understood that everyone and everything in the world has a unique perspective?

The cat in They All Saw a Cat walks through the world just being himself with whiskers, and ears, and paws.  He comes across a child, who sees him as an affectionate pet, a dog who sees him as enemy, a mouse who sees him as predator, a bee who sees him as a mosaic built by compound eyes. He comes across a fox, a fish, a bird, a flea, a snake, a skunk, a worm, and a bat. They all see a cat, but they all see him from their own unique perspective. Finally, the cat comes to water and sees himself and his self-image is as unique as the rest.

Watch the trailer from the publisher:

I found this book at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. I loved this book because it addresses the issue of identity that we all come across in our everyday lives. It encourages a curiosity about viewpoint and frame of reference for an audience that is just beginning to be aware of not only themselves but of how other people view them. It entreats them to engage their imaginations to envision perspectives not their own.

The illustrations show a range of styles. A bird’s eye view. A fish looking at a refracted image through a water bowl. A worm’s view from underground. A view from the tiny world of a flea. The styles and images are as varied as the perspectives. In one image, the cat is seen as a collage of all of the viewpoints in the book.

This book contains a valuable message about our viewpoints and how our viewpoints influence our attitudes about our subject, even when that subject is ourselves. Would it be a better world if we could catch a glimpse of another perspective? I hope so.

My second graders had a hard time understanding that each animal was seeing the same cat.  It took some quality questioning to get them to grasp the idea of different points of view. The mouse and the fish clinched it for them.

This book would be a phenomenal mentor text for teachers to teach point of view.

See you next Wednesday!

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