Celebrate Groundhog Day
When Punxsutawney Phil pokes his head out of his hole on Febuary 2nd will he see his shadow? Groundhog Day, a popular tradition in the United States, was first celebrated in 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. German settlers in Pennsylvania believed that if a groundhog saw his shadow there would be six more weeks of winter, and that if he did not, spring would soon arrive.
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Double Trouble Groundhog Day
Illustrated by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
Snuggled in the warmth of their burrow is the Groundhog family, Grampie, Grannie, Dad, Mom, and the twins, Gregory and Greta. As they finish up their feast before hibernation, Grampie prepares for an important announcement. After many years of checking for his shadow on the second of February, Grampie is going to hand the Groundhog Day duties over to his successor, the younger generation. Both the twins are eager to fill the job, but the draw of the straws determines the honor. Although the story isn’t clear as to which twin drew the longer straw, readers can infer that Gregory drew the winning straw by the dialogue and the illustration of Greta pouting. During the winter sleep, Gregory is so nervous about his new role that he has nightmares. Will Gregory be ready to wake up on February 2 or not? What will the world do without the groundhog’s prediction? Colorful illustrations provide the readers with a cute, personified view of the groundhog family. The endpapers foreshadow the sibling rivalry and relationship between Gregory and Greta, which children may be able to relate to as they hear or read the story. 2008, Henry Holt and Company, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung (Children's Literature).
Either "Six more weeks of winter!" or the promise of "an early spring," is the prediction people anticipate hearing on February 2--Groundhog Day. The "Queen of Explanatory Books," Gail Gibbons, has given us the definitive Groundhog's Day book for young people. In this accessible picture book, Gibbons presents the history of the custom of observing the actions of groundhogs as they emerge from their burrows (willingly or not) on Feb. 2 and a brief look at their natural history. Many people think that if a groundhog sees its shadow upon "popping out" from underground, that there will be a six weeks extension of winter; should he fail to see his shadow there will be an early spring. The custom of observing animals in the middle of winter came to North American with European settlers. In the small town of Punxsutawney Pennsylvania, the custom has become a yearly celebration and all of the weather predictions are made by Punxsutawney Phil--a long line of groundhogs all give the same name. Gibbons then goes on to present a close look at the actual life-cycle of groundhogs, also called woodchucks, using a more realistic watercolor style than her usual cartoon-like depiction of humans or other animals. The cutaway sections showing groundhog burrows make it particularly easy for young people to understand the living habits of these furry, hibernating creatures. A simple map of North America shows areas populated by groundhogs, and gives the names of other celebrated "hogs." My favorite is, Sir Walter Wally of Raleigh, NC--although, I do think "Chuck Wood" of Los Angeles, CA is a clever name, as well. Teachers and care givers will appreciate having this title to add to their collection of books that lay out the basic facts about holidays or other areas of interest to early listeners/readers. 2007, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan (Children's Literature).
Groundhog Weather School
Illustrated by Kristin Sorra
Holub presents a clever look at the weather as readers follow some groundhogs (and an imposter) through their training at Professor Groundhog's school. In their lessons (including "GeHOGraphy") they write reports on "Famous Furry Hognosticators," learn other natural weather predictors, read about famous figures in weather history, learn about burrow building, do a skit entitled, "The Reasons for Seasons" and experiment with making shadows. Readers can take "The BIG Test" along with students to see how much they have learned. Sorra's illustrations combine a scrapbook style, with letters, checklists and typed research reports, and a comic-book style complete with speech bubbles and panels. The result really lets readers get into the premise and allows for diverse facts to be presented in little snippets (and funny comments to be assigned to each unique groundhog). Bright colors, textures and the incorporation of found objects, as well as the busyness of each page will keep readers searching the artwork. Backmatter includes information about Groundhog Day. Nothing in-depth or too serious here, but good fun that will subtly teach in between laughs. 2009, Putnam, 32p, $16.99. Category: Picture book. Ages 4 to 8. 2009 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved. Reviewer: Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2009 (Vol. 77, No. 18)).
Snowy, Blowy Winter
Illustrated by Judy Stead
The newest book in a series about seasons (do not miss Spring Things and Who Loves the Fall?) Snowy, Blowy Winter and its companions are perfect for introducing the spring, fall and winter to toddlers. The clear and vibrant illustrations and sparse and simple text are ideal for young readers. Each page is full of interesting items for a child to discover, from measuring spoons and cocoa mix to birdseed sprinkled on the sidewalk. The book has fun phonics, with silly words like gooey and squirrely, shovely and zippery all describing the wonderful world of winter. When the groundhog appears at the end of the story and sees his shadow, children will cheer for six more weeks of snowy, blowy, glowy winter. The last page includes a recipe for Snowy, Blowy Ice Cream that children are sure to want to try at home. For storytimes about winter, pair it with Denise Fleming’s The First Day of Winter. This book would be an excellent addition to school and public libraries. 2008, Albert Whitman & Company, $16.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Meagan Albright (Children's Literature).
A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems
Illustrated by Joan Rankin
Perhaps you cannot judge a book by its cover but in this case you will get a preview of some of the forest creatures and their personalities featured in the poems. You will also get a good sense of the humor and fun in between the covers of the book. There are 22 poems on critters large and small, from deer (“The Forest’s Royal Family”), to a raccoon admiring his face “by the light of the moon,” to a Green Tiger Beetle “who’s a brilliant shade of teal.” The playfulness of the short poems is reflected in the humor of the illustrations. There are poems for each season, too. “Woodchuck’s Wake-Up Morning” is perfect for Groundhog Day. Anyone who has ever made a handprint turkey will get a laugh from “A Wild Turkey Comments on His Portrait.” This is a great book to have on hand when introducing forest animals. I also recommend it as light and lively bedtime reading. 2009, Margaret K McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, $16.99. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
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