It may seem a little odd to feature a book about Groundhog Day just a few weeks before Christmas, but since I have been celebrating PPBF and Susanna Leonard Hill all week, I wanted to feature one of Susanna’s books, and she hasn’t yet written a book about December holidays. (That’s a hint, Susanna…) 😉
Title: Punxsutawney Phyllis
Author: Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustrator: Jeffrey Ebbeler
Publisher: New York: Holiday House, 2005
Genre: Picture book, fiction
Audience Age: 3 to 8 years
Themes/topics: Groundhog Day, groundhogs, spring, signs of spring, determination, gender roles, traditions
Opening Sentences: Phyllis was not like the other groundhogs. She liked to get up in February instead of in March. She liked to be outdoors instead of indoors.
Synopsis: Phyllis, a rambunctious young groundhog, wakes up early – on February 2nd, Groundhog Day, in fact – and senses signs of an early spring. No one believes her, and everyone discounts her wish to be the next Punxsutawney Phil. Punxsutawney Phil has always been a male! She can’t even convince Uncle Phil, who finally wakes up, reluctantly, and drowsily goes outside to make his prediction, missing all the signs that are apparent to Phyllis. Finally, as she points out each sign to him, he realizes that she is right, and that everyone else, including him, has been wrong about spring. He also proclaims that they have been wrong about not having a female Punxsutawney Phil. Phyllis is triumphant!
Activities/Resources: There are no groundhogs where I live, so the first activity I would suggest would be learning about them. There is information on the National Geographic Kids site, as well as the BioKids site of the University of Michigan.
There is a page of information about Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil (as well as Canada’s Wiarton Willie) at the end of the book. Susanna’s website also has many activities for this and all of her books.
EDITED TO ADD: Pam suggested an excellent activity in the comments on this post, and I am adding it here: “I think a fun outdoor activity for preschoolers would be to have fun with shadows while on the playground. Greg & Steve have a great song called “Shadow Dancing” that I think I’ll incorporate into the playground fun!” Here’s a link to Greg and Steve’s website.
Availability: Readily available in paperback.
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.”