PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: They All Saw a Cat/Cleonardo


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?


Brendan Wenzel has created a delightfully intriguing story about the way a cat is seen as it stalks through the world.  The wide variety of images and styles makes for some real eye candy.  This book begs to be a starting point for a great discussion about point-of-view and how everyone and everything sees the world a bit differently based on both nature and nurture.  A child, a dog, a fox, and a fish all see the cat in very different ways, even the cat itself doesn't see what the other animals see.  A fun activity to do with children surrounding this book would be to have him/her/them draw a cat themselves just to see how their perceptions differ from those of the book and from other children.  I just might do that with some of my students.  The brilliance of this book makes it a great contender for not only the Caldecott but many other awards.


Cleonardo's father is an inventor. So was her grandfather, her great-grandfather, and all the great-greats before them. Cleo wants to be an inventor too. She tries to help her father in his workshop, but he never uses her great ideas. Can Cleo invent something big and important and perfect all by herself?

This imaginative story of a father and his daughter brings the magic of creativity to little inventors everywhere.


Cleonardo loves to invent like her father, Geonardo, but she loves to base her inventions on nature, whereas her father prefers machinery.  After her father gently rejects all of her ideas for the upcoming invention festival, Cleonardo decides to invent something by herself.  Eventually Geonardo realizes just how much he misses having her around and decides to invent something that he thinks she will like, a mechanical bird. Later, at the festival, Cleonardo's invention helps when things start to go haywire.  GrandPre's gorgeous illustrations nicely complement this sweet story about creativity and how different ways of seeing the world can complement each other.  And even beyond that, how sometimes the things of greatest value are the smallest things rather than the largest.


  1. Terrific reviews, Heidi. Thanks for sharing! Congratulations, Brendan and Mary! What wonderful covers.


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