Books by Frank Ansley

Released: July 1, 2004

Fitch the wolf and Chip the pig return for a third easy-reader adventure together, this time with a humorous fractured fairy-tale twist. Hints of "The Three Little Pigs" and "Little Red Riding Hood" are cleverly inserted into the plot as Fitch takes Chip to his house to meet his grandmother. She happens to be having trouble with her false teeth (her "looong, white teeth") and she makes several remarks that lead Chip to believe that he's included in the dinner plans—as the featured dish. Ansley's ink-and-watercolor illustrations add to the humor, with a delightful Granny Wolf in nightcap and shawl. Wheeler divides the story into short chapters, with each chapter revealing more ways that the wolf household differs from Chip's house. Granny Wolf and Chip find their common ground by the concluding supper, which includes chocolate-chip pie (not "chunk of chip pie"). A humorous easy reader is always welcome, but this one also includes deliciously funny fairy-tale allusions as well as the theme of making friends with someone who is different and perhaps even downright scary. Though this makes a fine addition to a successful easy-reader series, it will also work well with fairy-tale studies in early elementary classrooms. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
NEW PIG IN TOWN by Lisa Wheeler
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

Chip is a confident, friendly little pig (the middle child in a large family) and Fitch is a nervous, shy young wolf who lives alone with his grandmother. They meet on Chip's first day of school, when Chip is looking for a friend and notices that Fitch is always sticking to himself, clutching his tail, and twitching his ears. With droll humor and lots of short, funny lines, Wheeler succeeds in creating two distinct characters and a real plot, all within the confines of the upper easy-reader format. The text is divided into four short chapters, with a large type size and brightly colored watercolor illustrations on every page. Ansley uses a wide variety of perspectives in his work, adding motion wherever possible and additional humor with his expressive animal characters. The series continues with the second entry, Fitch and Chip: When Pigs Fly, and Fitch and Chip seem poised to continue their friendship with additional volumes. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
TURK AND RUNT by Lisa Wheeler
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

It's difficult to explain why Runt, the aptly named young gobbler in Wheeler's tale, cares for the well-being of his hale and hearty older brother, Turk, as in turkey, real and metaphorical. Runt's parents lavish all their attention on Turk, all their praise, hopes, and counsel. "He's a dancer," said his mother. "He's an athlete," said his father. "He's a goner," said Runt, for only Runt seems to understand that handsome, plump birds get the chop at holiday time. Runt is full of such Woody Allen quips, and like Woody, Runt is also the unlikely hero, saving Turk from being purchased, roasted, and gently basted, by acting like a lunatic and scaring off potential buyers. Then, when a pinched and parsimonious shrew sets her sights on Runt, it's Turk's turn to do the right thing, and he pulls through. Wheeler's (Sailor Moo, Cow at Sea, p. 890, etc.) comic timing is well tuned here—even if her repetitive authorial aside, "But no one ever listened to Runt," quickly begins to grate. But most inspired are the luxurious watercolors from Ansley (Wool Gathering, 2001), with their midnight blues, regal purples, and turkey-skinned pinks depicting Turk in his football gear and assorted buyers in their most comic animation. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
WOOL GATHERING by Lisa Wheeler
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

This collection of poems is a hysterical spoof on reunions and the odd characters and behaviors that are at the heart of every family. Sister Alabaster is a lamb who sure knows her chops—she's an expert in the martial arts, while the unassuming Cousin Lambert has a secret superhero identity, with the tool of steel wool at his disposal. From puns on counting and shearing sheep to "ewe," "baa-dminton," and "farewool," clever word play abounds. And what sheep gathering would be complete without the wolf, in costume, of course? Some puns and asides are meant for parents, but will still bring a chuckle from children—Lanolin is a sheep with soft skin . . . because she grows her wool on the inside. Wheeler's poetry debut features delightful rhythm and rhyme, but at times, her division of lines makes it difficult to follow the flow of the poem. Ansley's (Trucks at Work, 1997) watercolors are a rip-roaring complement to the author's humor. From Aunt Eweginia, who knits herself naked, to the team who eats away the baseball infield, they will have readers giggling with each turn of the page. If only every family reunion were guaranteed to be this much fun. (Picture book/poetry. 4-10)Read full book review >