Review posted January 15, 2014.
Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Boston, 2013. 32 pages.
2013 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #8 Picture Books
How does he think these things up? Three-time Caldecott winner David Wiesner knows how to tell a story with pictures, and they usually have a surreal element. This one is no exception.
Mr. Wuffles is a black and white cat. On the title page he walks past toys bought for him with all the nonchalance a cat can express. But one little metal sphere is not a toy. We zoom in to see aliens peering out through a window.
Unfortunately for them, Mr. Wuffles notices them, plays with the spaceship, and damages it. Now the aliens must go on a quest to repair their spaceship – with help from some friendly insects who live in a hole in the wall and also fear the cat.
The whole adventure is wonderfully done, and kids will love noticing the details and telling you what’s happening. The aliens speak with one another – but their words are expressed with speech bubbles containing strange shapes, emphasizing that they are speaking another language. The insects speak with a series of splotches. I love the primitive “cave paintings” on inside of the wall. The aliens add to this to communicate their predicament and get help.
After they repair their spaceship part, they must get it to their ship and get the ship away, all without being captured by Mr. Wuffles. And the human who lives in the house is oblivious to it all. The book ends with the insects commemorating the story of what happened in pictures on their wall.
You and your kids will want to examine this book many times to catch the details. Another brilliant offering from a picture book genius.