Introducing…Mr. Wuffles!

Have you met Mr. Wuffles yet? He (and a few visitors from outer space) arrive at a bookstore near you on October 1, 2013.

Publishers Weekly gives us a detailed look at the new picture book from three-time Caldecott Medalist David Wiesner:

mrwuffles_cricketmagazineIn 1993, Wiesner created cover art for Cricket magazine that depicted the crash landing of aliens in what, at first glance, appeared to be barren desert. Readers who laid the magazine flat to view the wraparound artwork as a whole found two delightful reveals: the aliens were actually really tiny, and they hadn’t put down in the desert; they had landed in a sandbox.

“I liked the idea of the relationship between the child who found these little guys in his sandbox, and how they could get along even though they spoke different languages,” Wiesner says. “The problem was what to do with them after they met.”

So he put that picture book idea aside and worked on The Three Pigs, which won the 2002 Caldecott Medal. Afterward, he took the aliens out of storage, but still, nothing worked, so he wrote and illustrated Flotsam, which (stop us if you’ve heard this one before), won the 2007 Caldecott Medal.

mrwufflesspread02Back to the aliens after that. Same result. He moved on to 2010’s Art and Max. Then, while waiting for his daughter outside her music lesson one day, Wiesner doodled a spaceship covered in nodules. “It struck me that it looked like a cat toy,” he recalls. Wiesner thought about all the cat toys he’d purchased for their felines in his family’s life that had been completely and resolutely ignored. What if a tiny, occupied spaceship was the thing that finally captured a cat’s attention?

Gone were the little boy and the sandbox; in sauntered a black cat, who fixates on the spaceship, intent on finding out what’s inside it. The result is a story about a really bad day in the life of an alien flight crew, who survive crashing to Earth, only to face attack by a huge clawed monster.

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“From time to time, we all say something is breathtaking, but when the real article comes along, and it actually does take your breath, you realize it’s a whole different order of things,” says Wiesner’s longtime editor, Clarion v-p and publisher Dinah Stevenson, whose only problem with Mr. Wuffles! (Clarion, Oct.) is that it’s hard to describe. “I’ve been calling it a nearly wordless picture book that’s full of dialogue that nobody can read.”

Read the whole article to learn more about the creation of Mr. Wuffles and how the story begins and ends with a Cricket.

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Cricket, the model for Mr. Wuffles.

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