I recently became aware of They All Saw a Cat, by Brendan Wenzel, after seeing it hailed as a success within the world of children’s books and publishing. A children’s book lover, I set out to make myself familiar and discover, for myself, why it has captured that world’s attention.

They All Saw a Cat very quickly reminded me of Eric Carle, with its repetitive narrative that shares a simple day in the life of a cat and all the creatures it encounters. Even having read the dust jacket, it took several pages for me to fully grasp what concept Wenzel had set out to explore.

Perspective.

What does the cat see as it meets its fellow animals? What do those animals see? It depends entirely on the individual situation.

What the dog sees…

is quite different from what the mouse sees.

The illustrations (also by Wenzel) are lovely, engaging, and meaningful – it’s through them that the real story is told, rather than the words.

We all walk the same earth – we do not all experience it in the same way.

Ideas for Therapy

Articulation

  • The /k/ sound is an obvious choice for this book as “cat” is repeated throughout
  • Stridents, including /s/, /z/, and /sh/ are repeated multiple times, especially with the refrain of “saw.” A few occurrences of /s/ blends are also potential articulation targets.

Voice/Fluency

  • Like many repetitive books, They All Saw a Cat could easily become a book for choral reading similar to Polar Bear, Polar Bear by Eric Carle. I find the combination of both easier to ease into /th/ (They) and a bit harder (cat) to be potentially useful for students who stutter.

Vocabulary

  • Again, similar to Eric Carle, They All Saw a Cat will work well as a book to reinforce animal names.
  • The story is a beautifully illustrated, offering a multitude of opportunities to explore descriptions, including colors, textures, emotions, size, spatial concepts, and more.
  • “Why” and “How” questions can be easily worked into discussion and description of the encounters (see Reasoning/Discussion/Social, below)

Grammar

  • With the refrain of “saw a cat” repeating throughout, the book is a natural gateway to target irregular past tense verbs. It also finishes with a couple of pages on how the animals “knew” each other, then contrasts to the present as the cat “sees” himself, providing more opportunities for verb tense.

Reasoning/Discussion/Social

  • They All Saw a Cat offers ample opportunities to discuss perspective. By having students identify “how” the animals saw each other and “why” they saw each other in those ways, they will explore perspective taking and reasoning in a way that is fun, tangible, and meaningful.

Pre-Reading/Early Reading

  • The word structures in the text are simple, consisting of many CV, VC, CVC combinations perfect for early readers and decoders.
  • The simple word structures also lend themselves to phonological awareness skills such as rhyming and manipulation.

They All Saw a Cat will make a lovely addition to any children’s library and therapist or teacher’s bookshelf. Offering up opportunities to explore the major facets of language, as well as include your speech students, it is a lovely, engaging story that will teach much more than it seems to on the surface.