I am doing a second Perfect Picture Book today, to give us a taste of April Fool’s Day (coming up before you know it), and to celebrate Phyllis, the young groundhog of this book, who is going on a very exciting book tour this month.

Quoting from the author’s website: As we speak, 2 copies of April Fool, Phyllis are winging their way out – one to Florida, the other to California – to begin whirlwind tours of the USA.  Each person who receives the book will read it (sometimes to their kids or classrooms), blog about it, sign it, and pass it on to the next person. In addition to the two copies making the rounds, lovely supporters in Canada, France, Italy and possibly even New Zealand will also be blogging about our April jester.  One special copy is going to Texas to begin a tour of US schools, and another special copy is going to Georgia to make the rounds of 2 fabulous literacy programs!

There will be a special tab on the author’s blog so you can all follow Phyllis’s adventures with ease, and virtually visit all the fantastic places she’s going! Note: The author of this book is Susanna Leonard Hill, the originator of Perfect Picture Book Fridays!

Title: April Fool, Phyllis!

Author: Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrator: Jeffrey Ebbeler

Publisher: New York: Holiday House, 2011

Genre: Picture book, fiction

Audience Age: 5-8

Theme: April Fool’s Day, trusting your instincts, respecting other’s advice, changing seasons, treasure hunts, riddles.

Opening Sentences: Phyllis knew everything about the weather.

After all, she was Punxsutawney Phyllis, Weather Prophet Extraordinaire!

So when she woke up on April first, the day of the Spring Treasure Hunt, it took only one whiff of the morning air to tell her something wasn’t right.

Synopsis: Phyllis is certain that there’s a storm brewing, but no-one will believe her, because it’s April Fool’s Day. Everyone is too excited about the Spring Treasure Hunt to pay attention to Phyllis’ continued warnings. The Treasure Hunt provides clues in riddles that children will enjoy guessing along with the young groundhogs in the story. Each riddle leads them closer to the treasure, further from home – and closer to the snowstorm that’s coming. They finally realize that Phyllis was telling the truth about the weather. (Of course she was! She’s Punxsutawney Phyllis, after all!) They do make it home safely – but Phyllis has the last laugh.

Why I liked this book: As in the first of Susanna Leonard Hill’s delightful Phyllis series, Phyllis shows herself to be a spunky and resourceful little groundhog, wise beyond her years, and a lot of fun to be around. The theme of April Fool’s Day jokes is something children can easily relate to, as is the problem of not being taken seriously. The riddles are great fun, as the obvious answer is not the correct answer, so the reader and read-to have to think. The story keeps the reader turning the pages, eager to find out what will happen next, and the illustrations are a delight. Kids will love that Phyllis gets the last laugh on everyone.

Activities/Resources: The author gives a page of information about April Fool’s Day at the back of the book, and has activities on her website .

There’s some history of April Fool’s Day (in kid-friendly text) at Mr. Donn’s resource site.

A to Z Teacher Stuff has lots of April Fool’s activities.

Lesson Planet has lesson plans using riddles as a teaching tool.

Story Arts has a story treasure hunt.

Lesson Planet’s treasure hunt lesson plans include math treasure hunts, map-reading treasure hunts, even a treasure hunt in the school library.

Availability: Readily available in hardcover.

Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”

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