Celebrate Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day, February 2nd, represents a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.
If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole. If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground. (Adapted from "Groundhog Day: 1886 to 1992" by Bill Anderson) For more information visit the following sites:
Fluffy Meets the Groundhog
Illustrated by Mavis Smith
Everyone's favorite "teacher's pet" is back for another funny adventure. When Ms. Day explains about Ground Hog's Day traditions, her students wonder--if groundhogs can predict the weather, why can't guinea pigs predict the weather, too? They decide that on this February 2nd, their class will celebrate "Groundpig Day" instead, with the help of Fluffy and three other pet guinea pigs that the students have brought in for the day. When it's time to go outside to the playground and check for guinea pig shadows, Fluffy checks out. Kids will enjoy discovering how Fluffy finds a unique way to get noticed, while helping out a camera-shy groundhog. This affordable book is a Level 3 title in the popular "Hello, Reader!" series. Suggestions about how to help beginning readers strengthen their skills and develop a love of reading are included. 2001, Cartwheel Books/Scholastic, $3.99. Ages 6 to 8. Reviewer: Dianne Ochiltree (Children's Literature).
Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather
Geoffrey Groundhog cannot see his shadow with all the reporters, cameras and lights of the news media. This lack of information on the coming of spring flummoxes everyone's plans. However, Geoffrey finds a way to get the prediction. The ironic twist of plot and setting will amuse all ages as will Koscielniak's whimsical illustrations. 1995, Houghton, $13.95 and $5.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Gina Sides (Children's Literature).
Go to Sleep, Groundhog
Illustrated by Paul Meisel
In a fresh and fanciful picture book, Groundhog gets ready for a long sleep because his clock reads half-past October. But he can't get to sleep so he goes above ground with a mouse companion. There they see the makings of Halloween and a friendly witch flies him back to his burrow, reads him a story, gives him a drink of apple cider and tucks him in. He awakes two other times, once at Thanksgiving when a friendly turkey flies him home, and at Christmas when Santa gives him a sleigh ride home. When he finally wakes up on February 2, he sees his shadow and realizes he needs a little more sleep. Children will delight in the patterned review of the holidays that precede Groundhog Day, and in spotting the mouse who doesn't go on the adventures but waits at the burrow. The hand-lettered look of the text, Groundhog's household furnishings of birch bark, and Meisel's friendly, textured gouache-and-acrylic paintings give this book visual appeal. And the note at the end explaining Groundhog Day customs gives details on other beliefs about predicting the end of winter weather. In fact, Groundhog puts himself to sleep, when the clock reads a little past February, by reading a book called "Your Garden." Good fun and a good holiday book for one about which few books exist. 2003, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Gregory Groundhog and his shadow are good friends. They feel safe when they are together. But one day, Gregory is terrified by something and rushes home. His shadow is left behind. The next day is Groundhog Day when they must have the opportunity to appear together. Each must overcome his fears and search for the other because that's what good friends do. Gregory and his shadow are reunited just in time for their big moment. But Gregory doesn't need his shadow because he knows winter is over. Farmers treat Gregory to a feast when he announces the end of winter. But he hasn't left his shadow behind again. The two stick so close together that the farmers can't see the Groundhog sharing this day with his best friend. Text and art for this book were completed before the author's death in 1978. Soft, simple illustrations dominated by blues and browns lend warmth to the shadow's persona and the sweetness in Gregory's face. 2000, Viking/Penguin Putnam, $15.99. Ages 2 to 6. Reviewer: Chris Gill (Children's Literature).
Gretchen Groundhog, It's Your Day!
Illustrations by Nancy Cote
This truly American story tells the tale of Gretchen the Groundhog as she faces and conquers one of our greatest fears--public speaking. All of the townsfolk of Piccadilly are counting on Gretchen to carry on the tradition of coming out of her burrow on February 2 to predict whether winter will continue for six more weeks or not. Her Great-Uncle Gus is too old to "Go Out," but Gretchen is afraid of the TV crews, the newspaper reporters, and the crowds and is determined to stay tucked in her private space. It isn't until the town historian's daughter shows the little groundhog how her forebears faced and conquered similar fears that she decides to "Go Out." This book is a unique rendering of the Groundhog Day story, with contemporary treatment. The warm, gentle illustrations are sparked by humorous touches such as the "Ode to the West Wind" hanging over the mantelpiece and the book Gretchen is reading, Down Under. 1998, Albert Whitman, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Carol Collins
Groundhog at Evergreen Road
Illustrated by Higgins Bond
There is a good deal of information about groundhogs packed into this picture book. And though groundhogs may not be a subject that naturally draws the attention of a preschooler the way alligators or dinosaurs do, the author's placement of this groundhog in a typical suburban backyard will raise the curiosity of many children. The reader follows Groundhog through his day, eating clover, evading the family dog and digging a new burrow. Along the way, we learn how groundhogs defend themselves against much larger and more agile animals, about the sophistication of their burrows, and about their daily habits. Higgins Bond's illustrations are realistic yet expressive, with vivid, saturated colors. Young nature lovers are sure to enjoy this book, which is in the "Smithsonian's Backyard" series. 2003, Soundprints/Trudy Corporation, $15.95. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Barbara Carroll Roberts (Children's Literature).
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
Benjamin Franklin Award Winner 2004 Children's Book and Audiobook United States
Illustrated by Mike Gordon
Mrs. Connor starts the class with a poem about Groundhog Day but some of the kids need more explanation. She explains that winter began 6 weeks ago, and will end in another 6 weeks, so Groundhog Day is right between the two seasons. There isn't a groundhog handy, but Chester the hamster will do. Chester doesn't see his shadow, so Spring can't be far away! The illustrations are cheery and Chester is a winner. As Mrs. Connor explains Groundhog Day, she walks past calendars adorning the classroom walls, which allows the reader to review the seasons and holidays from December to March. A Level 1 book in the "Ready-To-Read" series, for those just starting to read. 2006, Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, Ages 4 to 6, $3.99. Reviewer: Dr. Judy Rowen
Marc Tyler Nobleman
This unusual holiday is celebrated on February 2nd when thousands gather at Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to learn if the groundhog will see his shadow. If the groundhog does see his shadow, winter is not over and will last for six more weeks. If he does not see his shadow, then spring is on its way. Readers will get a good grounding in the habits and habitat of this critter, how the custom started in the U.S., and what actually happens on Groundhog Day. The earlier roots of this holiday are presented--and much to the surprise of this reviewer--Punxsutawney Phil is not the only groundhog that performs this service. There are other weather-predicting groundhogs in the U.S. and Canada. The book clearly points out that groundhogs do not really predict the weather--it is all just an excuse to have some fun. At the end of the book there is a glossary, "Did you know?" section, and a page telling readers where they can learn more. There is even an index and a brief blurb about the author. 2005, Compass Point Books, $19.93. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun
Illustrations by Paige Billin-Frye
Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Groundhog Day? After all, just where did such an idea come from that a little old groundhog, asleep underground all winter, would suddenly wake up every year on February 2nd and accurately predict whether spring will come early or late? And why do people all over the globe take such an interest in it? This informative book clues us in to the history and the legends that surround Groundhog Day and the most famous weather-predicting groundhog of them all, Punxsutawney Phil. To top it off, a science lesson on the seasons, background on groundhogs and their hibernating habits, silly riddles, and fun suggestions for how to celebrate this annual event are all provided along with fun and lively illustrations. From A to Z, as the title suggests, you will be sure to get all the facts and fun you could ever imagine about this little-known and often misunderstood holiday. 2004, Albert Whitman and Company, Ages 7 up, $15.95. Reviewer: Sheree Van Vreede
Groundhog Stays Up Late
Illustrated by Jean Cassels
A fun-loving groundhog avoids getting ready for winter. When Squirrel, Badger and Bear urge him to hibernate so that he may awake February 2 and look at his shadow, Groundhog declares that he doesn't need to hibernate to do that. As his friends curl up in their winter homes, Groundhog plays until he gets lonely, hungry and cold. When he cannot arouse his friends from their dens, he gets the idea to trick them out by announcing an early spring. The animals appear and begin to share a meal and celebrate until snow begins to fall and a check of the calendar reveals that it is only January 2. When Groundhog awakes February 2, the other animals have prepared a trick to play on him. The illustrations for this picture book are appealing. They are framed in blocks with simple borders. The blocks vary in size, shape and number on the pages but are formatted in an appropriate way for the young reader. The illustrations support the text with brilliant clarity and quiet additions. The color tone changes from fall to early spring. A two-page horizontal block of only trees showing the changing season is included on select pages and enrich the eye appeal of the book. The book will be a good read-aloud for young children with its humorous story and natural illustrations. 2005, Walker & Company, Ages 3 to 6, $16.95. Reviewer: Jacki Vawter
Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Why does the groundhog who predicts the arrival of springtime have to be Punxsutawney Phil? "Why can't it be me?" wonders Phyllis, who loves the outdoors, the spring rains, all the weather. The grown-ups say it has to be a "fellow." But one Groundhog Day, Uncle Phil just does not want to wake up and do his job. Phyllis is eager to do it, insisting she can feel that spring is coming early. Uncle Phil takes her out with him to try to show her she is wrong. But she points out all the signs of spring she can see and feel. When they go back underground, Uncle Phil not only admits that she is right; he retires in her favor rather than the other "fellows." Acrylic paintings on oak veneer provide a comic zing to the visual story of the anthropomorphic family. Phyllis, in particular, with her sassy attitude and bright smiles, is the charming moving spirit, while Uncle Phil is almost Dickensian in character with his frock coat and top hat. A final page answers the questions of "What is Groundhog Day?" and "Who is Punxsutawney Phil?" 2005, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
The Secret of the First One Up
Iris Hiskey Arno
Illustrated by Renee Graef
Lila is a little groundhog who doesn't want to go to bed. This isn't just any old bedtime we are talking about. This is that long sleep that we call hibernation, when many animals stay warm and safe during the cold days, sleeping away the lean winter months. Her entire family is drowsy, but not Lila. Then she has a talk with her uncle Wilbur, a groundhog who has always been the one to wake up first after the winter sleep. Being the wise groundhog that he is, Uncle Wilbur tells Lila of the time when he, too, didn't want to go to bed. He also tells her about the "secret of the first one up." Of course Lila wants to know more but her uncle won't say another word about it. The only way Lila is going to discover the secret is to be the first one up herself. It is a pleasure to share in Lily's wonder as she learns what Uncle Wilbur has been doing for so many years. With an evident joy in nature, tradition, and folklore, the author has created a delightful tale. Paired with Renee Graef's artwork, this is a book to read again and again, especially at the times of the year when Lily would be going to bed and when she would be waking up to discover the great secret entrusted to all groundhogs. At the back of the book there is a very interesting author's note about the American tradition of Groundhog Day and how it came into being. 2003, Northword Press, $15.95. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer:Marya Jansen-Gruber (Children's Literature).
Best Children's Books of the Year, 2004; Bank Street College of Education; United States
To stay up to date on new books on this topic, consider subscribing to The Children's Literature Comprehensive Database. For your free trial, click here.
If you're interested in reviewing children's and young adult books, then send a resume and writing sample to email@example.com.