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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mr. Wuffles


Since having kids, I've been reading hundreds of kids' books each year. I remember some of them from when I was a kid (Where the Wild Things Are, Little Black), but a great many of them are completely new to me. And some of them blow my mind. So today I wanted to write a bit about the writer and artist who is perhaps my favorite kids' book creator. His name is David Wiesner.

I first came across his book Tuesday, which is about a bunch of frogs that start flying on lily pads. They cause some trouble in a little town, then head back to their swamp. It's told entirely through pictures--not a word beyond a few time stamps--and it's brilliant.


A while back Paul McCartney composed some music for for a twelve minute animated short film based on this book. It can be found on McCartney's Music and Animation dvd. It's classical music. Lots of strings. Really good stuff.

 Wiesner has done some truly outstanding work with visual images. His books include Art & Max; June 29, 1999; and Sector 7, and others. I haven't read them all yet, but I intend to.

Then Miss Carol at the local Barnes and Noble recommended Wiesner's Mr. Wuffles, and I quickly became convinced that this is the greatest book of all time. Behold:

Yes, Mr. Wuffles is a cat...





...a cat who battles tiny aliens.





There are words, but the majority of them are in alien-speak and bug-speak. Trying to get my son to practice writing, I have him write sentences based on the panels and what he thinks the characters are saying in each one. He comes up with some pretty neat stuff. We're going to do this with some other books, too, I think.

Wiesner has an interesting website. He has a section devoted to his creative processes, so you get to see some of the sketches that became the paintings in the books as well as some of the model work Wiesner did in order to envision the aliens. I love seeing the creativity behind the creation. It's part of what drives contemporary folklore studies, learning how people come up with the things they create.

I think I'd want to own Wiesner's books even if I didn't have kids.

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