They All Saw a Cat
Author: Brendan Wenzel
Illustrator: Brendan Wenzel
Publication Date: August 30th, 2016
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .
In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?
What I Think: Eep! It's so hard to write about this book as a mentor text without giving away the story. If you are looking for an example of how the text and the illustrations in a picture book work with each other to tell a story, this is it! Brendan shows us how a cat might be seen differently from different perspectives with his illustrations. Readers have to use all the visual cues and connect them to each of the different beings that see the cat. My six-year-old was entranced by the story. I could see the little gears cranking around in his head as he made sense of the illustrations and how they connected to different perspectives.
My snatch of text is simple but profound at the same time. The more I read picture books and listen to authors and illustrators talk about all the intention that goes into their work, the more fascinated I am. When I write, I think about the state of my character and where he or she is when the story starts in relation to where I want that character to go. It's an art to give a teeny, tiny hint at what's to come or what's at play here and to clue the reader in to what to pay attention to. Honestly, it took me a few times through to think about how this story starts, and the specific focus that is put on the cat as we start off thinking about his whiskers, ears, and paws. In a way, it sets the mood, we're stalking along with the cat with his whiskers, ear, and paws but also, we have to pay attention to those whiskers, ears, and paws, right? As a mentor text, I would read the story and then go back and pay close attention to this line and have students think about how Brendan sneaks in this specificity right here and sets the stage for the reader. And then see if students can think about a starting sentence that might show the mood of the story while also pulling readers into the story.
I've included the book trailer here as well as it's another example of the mood of the story.
Snatch of Text:
"The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws..."
Writing Prompt: Think about where you will take your readers from start to end. Think about your main character and the state he or she is in at the start of the story and at the end. Write a first line or first paragraph that gives some subtle hint at the change we might see as we read.