“Mr. Wuffles!” by David Wiesner. (Clarion)

From flying frogs to postmodern pigs to fabulous fish, three-time Caldecott winner David Wiesner knows how to turn ordinary into eerie — or is it the other way around? In this new, almost wordless picture book, a sleek black-and-white feline named Mr. Wuffles starts on his excellent adventure by stalking disdainfully past a series of conventional cat toys. A stuffed mouse? Ho-hum! A jingle bell ball? So dull! A badminton birdie? Surely, you jest! “Oh, Mr. Wuffles!” sighs the clueless human proffering gifts. But what is this? A diminutive metal sphere perched on stiltlike legs. We can see that its interior is alive with tiny green toga-clad creatures. Now this could be interesting! Mr. Wuffles does what every cat must do when encountering something new, unknown and highly intriguing: He sniffs it, rubs it, bites it, bats it and rolls it under the radiator. Chaos ensues as the minute alien world inside the ball is upended and delicate instruments are smashed. The bald, green figures inside scratch their heads in bewilderment. Speech bubbles erupt with circles, triangles and other more exotic marks. Their language may resemble nothing so much as ancient pictographs, but the meaning is clear: This huge black-and-white creature must be taught a lesson. But luckily for all concerned, intergalactic warfare is averted. Once again, author-illustrator David Wiesner has done what he does so well: Create a world so real that we can see the grain in the floor-boards, the seams in the jeans and the rust on the radiator — then he turns it upside down to show us the hidden worlds that lie on the other side of ordinary. We must all take a lesson from the sharp-eyed cat, he suggests, and not only learn to look, but turn our own world upside down and look to learn.

Kristi Elle Jemtegaard


By David Wiesner

Clarion. $17.99. Ages 4-8