Wordless Books

What Whiskers Did

Ruth Carroll


A child takes her lively puppy Whiskers for a walk – or is it Whiskers taking the child for a walk? Either way, the string connecting them breaks and the puppy runs off into the woods.

Spread from What Whiskers Did by Ruth Carroll, showing the redrawn 1960s illustrations

He quickly finds a rabbit to play Chase with, but soon he is being chased in turn by a fierce fox. The three-animal pursuit charges between the trees until the rabbit sensibly darts back down his rabbit hole – and the dog follows.

Spread from What Whiskers Did by Ruth Carroll, showing the redrawn 1960s illustrations

Inside the hole we see the large family of anthropomorphic rabbits settling down at table to a dinner of carrots. They generously welcome the puppy, and soon all the young animals are friends. Together they enjoy games of Piggyback, Leapfrog and Blind Man’s Buff, until eventually tiredness sets in and Whiskers returns safely to his child.

Spread from What Whiskers Did by Ruth Carroll, showing the redrawn 1960s illustrations

This is a 1960s reworking of an earlier book by Ruth Carroll, an American artist. Also called What Whiskers Did, the original version was first published in 1932 and is thought to be the first wordless book for children to be published in the United States. The 1932 edition features crisp black-and-white illustrations, but in this redrawn 1960s edition Carroll has used a looser style with a muted two-colour palette of charcoal greys and soft browns.

For more info and images of a 1940 reprint of the original 1932 title, see: www.threebooksanight.com