When is a book with a cat on its cover not really about a cat? When it’s by the always surprising David Wiesner.
The aliens meet and befriend a colony of ants living in the skirting board and the interaction between these two groups made me laugh out loud. The ants, as their wall murals show, hate Mr Wuffles and this facilitates cooperation between them and the aliens. Together, these tiny creatures make a plan to thwart the cat and they succeed!
Poor Mr Wuffles? Hardly. Although they can’t help their hunting instincts, the cold-blooded way cats “play” with their victims is surely the least endearing thing about them. Neither, I must say, is the way they leave their kills as “gifts” for their owners. Should I be flattered by a beheaded mouse? A wingless bird? A legless frog? It’s OK, you can scream and scold and your cat will merely curl up and go to sleep.
Just like most of Wiesner’s books, Mr Wuffles has minimal text. The illustrator uses full page art as well as framed smaller sequences to tell his story. In either case, there are lots of details to pore over – I especially love the random household objects that wind up behind the skirting board, that are used by the aliens to get their ship working again.
Mr Wuffles is a bit of a red-herring – both the title and the character. This is not a cuddly cat, nor is it really the tale of a cat, cuddly or otherwise. It’s a cracker of a story, nevertheless, and shows that Wiesner knows his cats. So what if it’s not really about Mr Wuffles, it should be called Mr Wuffles anyhow.
Daphne Lee is a writer, editor, book reviewer and teacher. She runs a Facebook group called The Places You Will Go for lovers of all kinds of literature. Write to her at star2@ thestar.com.my.