April Fool, Phyllis! — Perfect Picture Book Friday

March 9, 2012

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.”

44 People reacted on this

  1. Beth, thank you so very much for this lovely review! This is the second time a PPB blogger has chosen one of my books and it means so much to me that you consider it worthy of a place on the PPB list. Now that you have admired Phyllis’s intelligence, called her a rock star, and written such a wonderful review of her book, Phyllis may be coming to live with you 🙂 Thank you!

    1. I would welcome Phyllis warmly — I’m sure my sea otter, Waverley, would as well. (Although Waverley envies Phyllis’s puppet status.)

  2. The moment I saw this cover, I recognized it right away. I love visiting Susanna’s blog. Her Picture Book covers line her sidebar adding so much delight. Checking out what she has going on is always a positive experience.

    Thank you for mentioning this particular one as it has such a wonderful adventure ahead of it, or rather, a series of very fortunate events, trading off from place to place on a global scale. Absolutely brilliant!

    1. I so agree with you about the delight of both Susanna’s blog and her books. Have you read any of her other books? “Not Yet, Rose” is lovely.

  3. So glad you did this. I had my own Phyllis moment on Thursday as I listened to weather reports. It turned out to be sunny and not a flake. I hope no storms brew during Phyllis’ travels.

    1. I’m glad your day turned out to be sunny. Phyllis will deal with any storms that come her way — but surely she’ll make the sun come out wherever she goes.

  4. I’ve always wanted to get a book about April Fool’s Day for my son. He loves riddles. Can’t wait to hear all about Phyllis’s travels. Thanks for all the links Beth.

    1. Oh, I love the idea of Phyllis having a high-tech experience. That’s going to be such fun to read about! You are going to love this book, Darshana!

  5. Will look forward to Darshana’s high-tech experience for Phyllis. Great that Susanna’s book is on our list. I loved this book the first time I read it. And, it was my mother’s name. I love how intuitive Phyllis is and shows everyone she knows that a storm is brewing! Fun book.

    1. Phyllis is a delight. I had a beloved aunt with that name, so there are good memories connected with the name for me as well. Thank you, Pat!

  6. I love the idea of April Fool, Phyllis traveling the USA! Brilliant idea! I appreciate that you reviewed the book for Perfect Picture Book Friday because I did not know what the book was about until reading your post. It sounds like a great companion to Punxsutawney Phyllis.

    P.S. You have been a busy blogger this week!

    1. I’m glad my post has set the stage (appropriate this week on my blog!) for Phyllis’s world tour! It is indeed a wonderful companion to the first book.

      P.S. Yes, It has been a busy, but satisfyingly rewarding week of blogging!

  7. I’ve never heard of this book. April Fool! I think we’ve read it 3 times in the last 24 hours. We are honored to have Phyllis at our house right now. We’ll be snapping some photos later (stay tuned) and wishing her bon voyage!

    1. Haha. You had me fooled, for maybe a nanosecond! You’re so lucky to have Phyllis visiting you! Looking forward to the photos!

  8. You guys are all so amazing! you have made my day with all your wonderful comments, your kindness and support, and your enthusiasm for Phyllis and her travels. Thank you all, so very much! And special thanks again to Beth 🙂

    1. Oh, I’m sure the critics from room 502 will be absolutely delighted with it! I’ll look forward to reading their comments!

  9. Beth…what a wonderful review of Susanna’s new book!
    I, too, will be following the journey and adventures of Phyllis…what a clever take on the virtual book tour. 🙂
    The resources and activties are amazing…Beth, you put in a lot of work to round them all up…thank you!

    1. Thank you! Phyllis is a delight to write about. And I enjoyed finding the resources as well. (Although I never worked as a “real” librarian or teacher, I definitely have the instincts of both, I think.

  10. Great review! What a Wonderful list of resources. I can’ wait to read this book. I’m very excited for Phyllis to arrive at my house :•) I’ve never had a groundhog for a houseguest before. I don’t know whether to make the guest bed or just dig a hole in my back yard.

    1. Thanks, Penny! How exciting to be part of Phyllis’s grand tour. I love the idea of you digging a hole in your backyard!

    2. Phyllis is not at all demanding. She will be perfectly happy in your best guest bedroom, with 14 pillows and 2 extra quilts, and a bowl of room temperature water on the bedside table, and breakfast in bed – she loves strawberries 🙂

    1. Thanks, Erik! I think it’s such a marvelous idea to send Phyllis on a trip like this — I bet we’ll all remember it for a very long time.

  11. Splendid review, Beth, of a very funny book! Bon voyage to Phyllis, and I hope she doesn’t encounter too many blizzards on her spring tour of the U.S.!

  12. Good Grief!!! 14 pillows!!! and 2 extra quilts!!!, If she should turn up here I will definately nip along to the shops to get the extra pillows…lol. Though at the moment she wouldn’t need them, being still summer here. 🙂 What a great kick off for her tour. Happy travels Phyllis.

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