Books by William Wise

ZANY ZOO by William Wise
ANIMALS
Released: March 27, 2006

Wise will drop readers fond of relentlessly pun-ishing doggerel into hog heaven with this manic menagerie. From a watermelon-loving "melon collie" to four garlic-eating rabbits making a "hares' breath escape" from Mr. Fox, each set of verses brings a fresh round of "panda-monium," "fowl play" or "otter confusion"—all of which is expertly captured in Munsinger's jovial, finely detailed watercolors. Follow this up with Charles Hoce's Beyond Old MacDonald: Funny Poems from Down on the Farm (2005), illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, for yet more sheep thrills and wordplay. After all, "one good tern deserves another." (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2004

Christopher is a white mouse, born either for the pet shop or the laboratory, so when he's sold to a pet shop, and then to the ideal boy, he feels fortunate. Had he but known, however, he would not have been so smug, as his boy is soon gulled by a kid hustler, and Christopher is propelled into a series of adventures that include a harrowing escape into the Metropolitan Museum of Art (shades of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler). These travails never seem particularly urgent, however, as Christopher narrates his tale in a sort of sighing, dispassionate voice that never truly engages the reader. That his ending is a happy one comes as no great relief, as the mouse's formal, stilted voice keeps the reader at arm's length, despite the little verses the mouse composes to comfort himself. The tepidness of the tale begs comparison to more vigorous mice of yore, and rather than purchasing this offering, libraries will find themselves better served by replacement copies of A Cricket in Times Square. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
DINOSAURS FOREVER by William Wise
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2000

Twenty-one dinosaur poems and dozens of humorous drawings to delight dinosaur lovers of all ages will make this new collection a real favorite. Adults be warned: children will want these poems read aloud. Consult the helpful pronunciation guide before attempting such poems as "The Awful Three," which includes the verse: "The first was Rhamphorhynchus, / Hardly longer than your arm, / A grisly little monster / With very little charm." While the rhymes are sometimes forced—for example, "ungracious" "Cretaceous"—it's hard not to smile at the toothy vaudevillian T. Rex with straw hat and cane doing a soft shoe. The picture book set will giggle at the variety of urban dinosaurs in costume and clothing, lumbering though the city with Walkman, cell phone, running shoes, and skateboards. The author of Ten Sly Piranhas (1993) presents the familiar dinosaurs: T. Rex, Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, and Triceratops, and the less familiar Gorgosaurus. While children will pick their own favorites, the last poem, "Dinosaurs Forever," will speak to all: "… But as long as there are those of us / Who love ‘The Beast that Roars,' / No matter what the experts say— / There will always be Dinosaurs!" (Poetry. 5-9)Read full book review >
NELL OF BRANFORD HALL by William Wise
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Loosely connected to historical events, this tale of a 17th-century English town that isolated itself to prevent the plague from spreading celebrates selfless courage, but it does so at some distance, and within the confines of a contrived, ordinary story. Daughter of a prosperous, bookish squire, Nell Bullen has enjoyed an idyllic upbringing, and despite confirmed rumors of plague, eagerly accompanies her father to London when he is inducted into the Royal Academy. Guided by the up-and-coming Samuel Pepys, Nell tours the city, avoiding the plague-ridden districts until by mischance she witnesses a horrifying mass burial. Sobered, she returns to Branford, not long before the local tailor takes ill. Viewed largely from the distant safety of the manor house, the townfolks' principled decision to stay put rather than flee, and their subsequent suffering, will seem a remote catastrophe to readers, and Nell's stilted narrative style ("Among our visitors from London was a singular young man whom I misjudged completely at the start,") gives this the artificiality of a formula romance. Though the act from which this story springs merits commemoration, the inner and outer devastation wrought by disease is more vividly captured in Cynthia DeFelice's Apprenticeship of Lucas Whittaker (1996) and Anna Myers's Graveyard Girl (1995). (Fiction. 11-13) Read full book review >
PERFECT PANCAKES IF YOU PLEASE by William Wise
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

A bejeweled caricature of a king, perfectly rotund and greedy, offers his daughter's hand in marriage to the suitor who can produce a stack of perfect pancakes. This parody of the way in which princess brides gain their spouses is full of familiar patterns and plotting, complete with a handsome young beau, Roderick, and an evil inventor, Maximilian. While poking fun at the fairy-tale genre, Wise (Ten Sly Piranhas, 1993, etc.) tells a laugh-aloud story about a king's breaking his promise to Maximilian, whose little black box spits out perfect pancakes. He promptly curses the kingdom, and not since Homer Price's doughnut machine has a wacky invention gone so splendidly haywire—a plethora of pancakes is the result. Egielski masterfully stretches the humor of the story, peopling the pages with pop-eyed Roy Gerrardlike characters engaged in convincingly ridiculous comedy just this side of wild. The Evil Inventor is a perfect Rumpelstiltskin figure, down to his skeleton cufflinks. Neither author nor illustrator neglects the happily-ever-after ending, in which Maximilian is shipped off to the moon, the king temporarily realizes his folly, and the princess gets her man. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
TEN SLY PIRANHAS by William Wise
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 1993

The long subtitle—``A Counting Story in Reverse (A Tale of Wickedness—and Worse!)''—explains it all: Ten toothy fuchsia piranhas (``Each a slippery schemer, with a dozen dirty tricks'') ogle and menace and, one by one, devour each other; the last is snapped up by a crocodile. The violence here is considerable, but tastefully implicit; the beady-eyed Amazonians in Chess's brightly tropical river scenes (intriguingly displayed in over/under cross sections) simply disappear, while the author also leaves their gruesome demises to the imagination. Wise's rhymed verse has a catchy rhythmical beat that propels it as persistently as the predatory fishes' hunger. Readers of a certain sort will relish this mightily. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >