• Happy birthday, David Macaulay (Black and White).
  • It’s the birth date of circus owner Charles Ringling (1863–1926). Read Ringlingville USA: The Stupendous Story of Seven Brothers and Their Stunning Circus Success by Jerry Apps and Tents, Tigers, and the Ringling Brothers , also by Jerry Apps.
  • In 1867, Charles Dickens gives first his first U.S. public reading at Tremont Temple in Boston. Read A Christmas Carol.

December has been designated Read a New Book Month. Often in December, we hunt for something recently published that will make the perfect gift. Now, I admit that I favor dog books. And my readers have been patient with me as I rhapsodize over titles like Love that Dog or Homer, month after month. But today I have a title for cat fanciers, or for anyone who loves to read a brilliantly executed picture book: David Wiesner’s Mr. Wuffles!

On the cover of the book, a sly black cat looks out at the viewer. Various balls and mouse toys lie around him. Tucked in the corner, an odd-shaped silver object sits on the floor. A bug appears prominently against the wallpaper. Such an ordinary scene, but here are clear indications of menace. Even before the title page appears, an owner attempts to interest our hero in a toy. But as Mr. Wuffles parades through a gallery of ordinary dull objects, viewers learn that the shiny, silver object houses a group of space aliens. Welcome to the world of David Wiesner, where the ordinary always becomes extraordinary.

In panels with a strange language, the aliens introduce their plight. Knowing that children love to pore over every detail of an illustration, David invented his own alien tongue that, once decoded, will reveal more information in the art. Large eyes peer into the alien world, and then the picture cuts away to Mr. Wuffles, now playing with this exciting toy. The story moves from the plight of the aliens to the cat intent upon seizing them. At one point the small creatures find shelter in a hole in the wall and create their own Lascaux cave painting, prominently featuring cats. All the while, the human remains clueless. Eventually the aliens launch themselves into space—as a loud “MWOWW!” erupts from Mr. Wuffles.

Great fun from the first page to the last, Mr. Wuffles! is based on a concept that every cat owner understands. Our pets have fascinating and interesting lives that we only barely glimpse. They see and smell things to which we remain oblivious, and what we think they will like often bores them.

Well, nothing is boring about Mr. Wuffles! The action moves forward at a swift pace; the pictures contain an enormous amount of visual energy. Ever since Free Fall, David Wiesner has been experimenting with superb storytelling that often uses few words. For his talents, he has been honored three times with the Caldecott Medal and has become one of the favorite authors of picture-book readers. In his early years as an artist, David Wiesner actually illustrated a version of E.T. Now many years later he has found a way to bring extra-terrestrials, cats, and children together in a stellar picture book that you and the children in your life will not want to miss.

 Here’s a page from Mr. Wuffles!: 



Originally posted December 2, 2013. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Cats, Humor, Imagination, Technology
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Mr Wuffles!


  1. suzi w. says:

    The words can be decoded? Oh my. What fun!! My nephew on the way is going to be getting a copy of this one…his mother loves cats, but his dad is allergic. (He is going to be so spoiled via books by Aunt Suzi)

  2. Anita says:

    Suzi: Yes, many don’t realize that David has invented his own space alien alphabet!

  3. G. Perry says:

    I loved Sector 7 and various other books of his.

    For some reason, this art looks different to me than what he has done in the past, but I can’t wait to get hands on it.


    I once met a cat that actually liked me. What a shocker that was.

  4. Anita says:

    Gordon: I think David always stretches himself, moving into new territory. This one is great.

  5. G. Perry says:

    Ok, I got hold of a copy of this book today and love it. The art is great!

    I love the idea of the cave drawing part. How clever.

    Now all I’ve got to do is figure out the language. So far, I think I have one symbol interpreted, but I’ll be towing and turning seeing these things in my sleep. Grin..

  6. Anita says:

    Gordon: A clue. At the camera picture the alien phrase is “Say cheese.”

  7. Ingrid says:

    My son and I love this book! I also love the fact that David put a mini cat-cam on his cat’s head to get a cat’s eye view for reference.

Leave a Comment

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .

The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .

And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large.