Punxsutawney Phyllis — Perfect Picture Book Friday

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.”



  1. This has been the best week ever, Beth! First the PPBF post, then the interview where everyone was so incredibly nice, and now Phyllis gets her moment in the spotlight! I am honored and touched that you think Phyllis is worthy of inclusion on the PPB list. Thank you so much for adding it, and thank you for a great week of celebration over here! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for all you do, Susanna, and for all you write! Here’s to your success!!!!

  2. YAY for Phyllis and double YAY for Susanna. This is an excellent PPBF choice.

    1. Thanks, Angela — I’ll join you in all those YAYs!

  3. Beth, you could not have made a better choice for this PPBF. With Susanna’s blogiversary on Saturday, this is a great suggestion. 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! Thanks for suggesting this book, Beth!

    1. Thanks, Pam! I love that activity suggestion — as you can see, I’ve added it to the post.

  4. Glad to hear Phyllis got equal time. I have yet to read this one. (Sorry, Susanna), and we have a ground hog that lives under our deck!!

    1. You’ll love this book, Laura!

  5. I like how you kept your theme going all week with Susanna. A perfect choice since it is the anniversary of her blog. I love this book. Gave it to my granddaughter and she adores it! It should be on our PPB list because it is so unique!

    1. Thanks, Pat! I had a great time with this theme week!

  6. Yay Phyllis! What’s shakin’? Tell your author you need a Christmas story – will it be a white one?

    1. Yay, Julie! Great idea — a Phyllis Christmas story would be such fun.

  7. We love Susanna AND Phyllis. How I love this story and how I echo Julie’s suggestion!

    1. I echo all you’ve said. Thanks, Joanna!

  8. I’ve read April Fool, Phyllis, but (strangely) haven’t read this one. A Christmas story is a great idea!

    1. You’ll love this one, Carrie!

  9. Phyllis says thank you to everyone who likes her 🙂 And Holiday House is holding a Phyllis Valentine story but I don’t think they’ll pick it up because April Fool didn’t do as well as they were hoping. Maybe I should try a Christmas one… 🙂

    1. Susanna and Phyllis — you’re most welcome! Such a shame that April Fool didn’t do as well as we all think it should. I’ll add my vote for a Christmas Phyllis book!

  10. Great choice! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! Ms. Hill is a great author! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Erik! I agree — Ms. Hill is a great author, and this is a super book!

  11. This looks like a fantastic and fun book! I’ll have to check this out.

    1. You’ll love it! I hope you do check it out!

  12. I’ve not seen this book yet, but I’m guessing it’s an excellent one! I’ll have to look for it at the library! Thanks to you for suggesting it and thanks to Susanna for all that she does! Y’all are excellent people!

    1. I would definitely say it’s an excellent book. Hope your library has it! Thanks!

  13. Shame about Phyllis April Fool Story, like everyone else I think the Christmas idea would be great. Keep on keeping on Phyllis.

    1. If we had anything to do with it, Phyllis would be at the top of the holiday reading list, right, Diane?

  14. Yip…yip… yippee! Such an awesome review of such an awesome book. I love this book and I love the author! Beth you have done an phenomenal job this week!!!

    1. Thank you so much, Penny! This week has been so much fun!

  15. I love celebrating groundhog day with the kids. Susanna’s book will be an awesome addition to my small collection of groundhog books. Thanks!

    1. Oh, the kids in your classroom will LOVE Phyllis! Thanks, Barbara!

  16. I “discovered” Susanna through you blog…and I know I’m gonna love her work! Can’t wait to read Punx Phyllis and MORE!

    1. I am delighted that I led you to Susanna — and you are definitely going to love Susanna’s books. Besides the two Phyllis books, I *HIGHLY* recommend “Can’t Sleep Without Sheep” and “Not Yet, Rose.”

  17. How has this fabulous book not been reviewed yet for PPBF. Thanks for correcting this oversight, Beth, and for celebrating Susanna and all she does.

    1. I was kind of glad it hadn’t yet been added to PPBF, so that I could add it during Susanna week! Thank you, Kirsten!

  18. Perfect choice, Beth. It’s a great way to celebrate Susanna and her accomplishments!

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