Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner (2013)
Suggested age range: All ages! (Clarion Books, 32 pages)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Picturebook, Wordless
Awards: Caldecott Honor
The Book: Sporting a black fur coat and white “boots,” the feline, Mr. Wuffles, is picky about his toys. He only likes one toy, and it just happens to be a spaceship manned by real aliens. When Wuffles plays a little too rough with the ship, the aliens have to journey outside of it in order to make repairs. Fleeing from the fearful and monstrous Mr. Wuffles, they slip into the wall and meet other foreign creatures. However, these creatures also fear and battle the cat, and with their help, the aliens may just be able to outsmart Wuffles and make their ship ready for the trip back to space.
Spirituality in Mr. Wuffles: Could this story carry an alternate title? Could it also be called “How People Who Are Different Unite to Battle a Common Enemy”? I love the part in the story when the aliens encounter “cave paintings” that convince them there are others here who have had to escape Mr. Wuffles and his “violence.” As a result, different groups are able to connect and even forge friendships in the midst of not speaking one another’s language. There is an interesting thread of community, connection, and helping out those in need in that adds richness and depth to this picturebook.
Exploring This Book With Readers: “Reading” this book may actually take a little longer because it doesn’t have words. Wordless picturebooks sometime require the reader to work a little harder, because readers have to follow the visual text so closely to keep up with the story. Wiesner has created many amazing and award-winning wordless picturebooks, and Mr. Wuffles is no exception. This is another detailed and multi-layered story that will invite multiple re-readings and sharings with others. Readers could create their own written text to accompany the pictures in this story, and the speech bubbles of the aliens and their ant and ladybug friends could also be filled in with English phrases. There are definitely some brilliant activities that could accompany this journey with Mr. Wuffles.
The Final Word: This is a clever and humorous wordless picturebook that I find myself returning to again and again! Mr. Wuffles may not seem like a scary cat, based on the cover, but if you look a little longer and more closely, think about it. His head is covering the bottom half of the cover, and those yellow eyes are staring at…YOU! Are we (the readers) invited to consider the perspective of someone smaller, someone who might be an alien whose ship needs repairs? It’s something to consider. Regardless, Mr. Wuffles is a new picturebook certain to delight and inspire all ages!
Are you familiar with Wiesner’s wordless picturebooks? What did you think of Mr. Wuffles?