In this playful picture book, Brendan Wenzel explores the world through the eyes of many, thereby reminding readers how our perspective shapes what we see, how we feel about it and how we react.
A long, brown, fluffy cat strolls through the world. We, as human readers, see it one way on the page. It looks like . . . well, a cat. It has whiskers, ears, paws and a collar with a bell. Yep, no doubt about it. It’s a feline.
But in succeeding spreads, we see a very different cat as Wenzel plays freely with shape, color, scale and perspective. A fox sees a significantly plumper (and moderately terrified) creature. A mouse sees a cat that looks not unlike a demon. A flea sees a massive field of fur and fluff. The fish spread takes the cake, as the tiny creature looks with a frown through the glass side of a tank to see large yellow eyes and mammoth white whiskers. The cat is all face and all fear.
Wenzel structures the story in a way that recalls, in particular, Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? The phrase “Yes, they all saw a cat” appears intermittently, giving the book a pleasing rhythm, and at the book’s close, we see a vision of the cat as if all the creatures are looking at once—right before a list of each creature whose eyes fell upon the cat. It’s a mish-mash of color, spots and stripes, smiling happily at the reader. Cue the happy squeals of delighted children.
This may be a primer in the power of perception with young children being its sweet spot, but it’s also a treat for all ages. Thought provoking, entertaining and smart, it’s one of the best picture books you’ll see this year.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.