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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mr. Wuffles, by David Wiesner. Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Thomas Allen & Son, 2013. $19.99 ages 4 and up

What's the perfect toy
for a disinterested cat?
His people cannot seem
to find anything that
satisfies his persnickety

It's been a very long time since Art & Max, (Clarion, 2010) and I have missed David Wiesner's terrific talent. Thankfully, we now have Mr. Wuffles to admire, and to share with all who are sure to be intrigued by a cat with a penchant for shiny new things.

His owners do their best to find a toy that might interest Mr. Wuffles. It matters not. Mr. Wuffles is not easily pleased. In fact, he is downright insolent when a new toy is offered. In the horizontal title page spread we are made aware of just how difficult it is to please him, as he wanders past a long line of toys, price tags still attached.

We are quick to note that the shiny metallic spaceship has no tag; in fact, it appears that there are creatures living inside creatures by their look and their language! We can only guess at what they might be saying to one another. Too soon, they are aware of bold yellow eyes at the window, and their world tilts!

Mr. Wuffles has finally found a toy that captures his attention; but, it is NOT a toy! It most certainly is not. It is a curiosity to this inquisitive feline. He tires of it  quickly, and leaves the 'toy' alone while taking a quick nap. In the meantime, the aliens are desperate to get help in fixing the damage done to their equipment. Off they go, with Mr. Wuffles intrigued and in pursuit. The cat is easily distracted by a ladybug, allowing the aliens a welcome escape.

A twist in the tale allows the aliens a secret hiding place, and a most telling meeting with the many insects who live under the radiator. Obviously, they do not speak the same language. Detailed drawings of battles between the insects themselves and various cats allow a mutual understanding, followed by a few photo ops, a shared meal and the materials needed to repair the damaged spaceship equipment.

Banding together, they outsmart the befuddled cat. The aliens can make a dramatic exit. Poor Mr. Wuffles! His menacing stare and protruding claws are useless in the wake of the alien escape. A new toy means nothing. Our last glimpse has him poised to pounce, and patiently waiting at the radiator cover, behind which the insects are adding new information to their story wall.

What a world he has created! Detailed, beautifully orchestrated and funny, this is a wordless wonder!

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