David Wiesner's Mr. Wuffles!
Book review by Steve Barancik
When the first earthling you meet is a cat!
More wordless magic from the bizarre mind of the great visual storyteller.
Summary - Mr. Wuffles
Of course, a proper review of a David Wiesner book would contain no words, just pictures. But, lacking the great author-illustrator's visual storytelling skills, I'm afraid I'll have to resort to prose.
Mr. Wuffles is a cat - a picky cat. He has no interest in the various toys that have been purchased for his amusement, never mind the cost.
He's much more interested in trying to maim the local insects, who detail their epic battles with the cantankerous kitty on the wall in their refuge behind the radiator.
Enter... space aliens! Insect-sized space aliens, with a toy-sized spaceship. (Can you see where this is going?)
They appear to be here for entirely peaceful, documentary purposes.
They're quite pleased with their landing location...until Mr. Wuffles takes to playing rather lethally with their spaceship. ("A toy with maimable creatures in it?," the curious tabby can almost be heard to say. "Yea!")
The damage done to the ship appears not to be completely incapacitating, but the ship's power source (circles, or rather, cylindrical cross-sections of everyday objects) are hopelessly beyond repair.
The aliens flee, along with the sympathetic insects, to that space behind the radiator. There they manufacture new cross-sections and formulate a plan to distract the cat, get back to the spaceship, and make their escape.
Which they do. This leaves the insects to document this most recent epic
encounter, and Mr. Wuffles' owner to his usual obliviousness as to what
goes on, in his home, practically beneath his nose.
Mr. Wuffles - review
The wonder of a David Wiesner book is in both the puzzling out of the plot and the attaching of your own words to describe it. This adult paged front to back three times before he felt he had a nearly full grasp of Mr. Wiesner's intent, and as usual, my words don't nearly do justice to it.
(This book won a a Caldecott Honor, of which the author has - so far - two others, to go with his three Caldecott Medals. So if you haven't gotten acquainted with him yet, it's time!)
"Reading" a Wiesner book is a bit like making a friend with whom you share no common language. Communication is a challenge, and thus the achievement of comprehension is to be celebrated, all the moreso because the tales Wiesner "tells" are so delightfully unreal. Whether he's detailing
...Wiesner always manages to put his "readers" smack-dab in the middle of the action, facing them with a challenge nearly equal to those faced by the characters in his stories. Mr. Wuffles is a delightful addition to the tradition!
More Caldecott reviews.
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