“Mr. Wuffles!” By David Wiesner; Clarion Books, unpaged
Anyone who has ever owned a cat knows about their ability to "see" things that humans cannot. Whenever Gracie and Rooster, my two feline companions, suddenly turn their heads to stare at what appears to me to be nothing at all, I have to admit I get a little spooked. What has captured their attention? Fairies? Sprites? What manner of wee folk are hiding in the cracks and crevices of my home? Or, is it that the feline "sixth sense" is simply a game that cats have devised to spook humans? Unanswerable questions, I'm sure, but still worth pondering.
David Wiesner, the author of this week's completely charming picture book, is definitely a cat owner because the story of Mr. Wuffles tackles the very mystery I have mentioned above. The answer to what lies beyond the sight of humans might, at first glance, appear to be most preposterous, but really, who can say what is true and what isn't? Only a cat knows for sure.
When Mr. Wuffles, a black and white tomcat, receives another new toy from his devoted owner, his lack of interest couldn't be more obvious. Is this unusual? The reader can assume that such disdain is not uncommon as a series of pages reveal a house littered with untouched toys. But, wait. One toy suddenly captures his attention. In one furry flash Mr. Wuffles turns his laser beam gaze on to an object shaped like a flying saucer, pupils enlarged and instantly dark as he prepares for the pounce. You and I would think that he is just engaging in pussycat play, maybe getting ready for a rip-roaring case of cat crazies.
Ah, but here is where it gets interesting. I don't want to spoil the surprise, or the clever explanation for things unseen, but if you have any experience with David Wiesner's other books such as the award-winning "Tuesday" and "Flotsam," you know you're in for a treat. His wordless illustrations convey everything necessary, plus much, much more.
"Mr. Wuffles!" is completely "wuvable," in my opinion. And from now on when I spot my cats staring at nothing, I'll know better.
Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.