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Reading for Groundhog Day

Six more weeks of winter?! Say it ain’t so!

Warm up (and cheer up) with these Groundhog Day–themed books. All of the titles below were recommended for by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide at the time of their publication; reviews reprinted from The Horn Book Guide Online.

Picture books

Blackaby, Susan  Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Sterling     2011
Trade ISBN 978-1-4027-4336-8

Illustrated by Carmen Segovia. On February second, Brownie the groundhog goes looking for signs of spring. Instead she finds a hungry fox. Brownie manages to outwit the inexperienced fox; what’s more, she discovers he’s not bad company. Brightened by sky-blue and fox-red, the illustrations for this humorous tale set the wintry scene well and help create distinctive personalities for the two animals.

Blackaby, Susan  Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Sterling     2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-4027-9836-8

Illustrated by Carmen Segovia. When winter comes, Brownie Groundhog goes into hibernation, leaving her fox friend at a loss (“What about me?”). On a whim, the fox and his new friend Bunny throw a festive winter party with supplies raided from Brownie’s house; luckily, she doesn’t mind waking up (briefly) for the celebration. The droll story’s distinctive characters are brought to life in cozy acrylics.

Biedrzycki, David  Groundhog’s Runaway Shadow
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Charlesbridge     2016
Trade ISBN 978-1-58089-734-1
Ebook ISBN 978-1-60734-894-8

As a child, Phil the groundhog was always in sync with his shadow. But when Phil grows up, Shadow’s annoying antics drive the two apart. When Shadow steals away to exotic lands, Phil realizes how dull his life is now and searches far and wide for his companion. The humorous Photoshop art includes clever details in a mix of full pages, spreads, and paneled sections.

Cox, Judy  Go to Sleep, Groundhog!
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Holiday     2004
Trade ISBN 0-8234-1645-3

Illustrated by Paul Meisel. Although he’s set his alarm clock for February 2, Groundhog is restless and keeps getting up for a wander — meeting a Halloween witch, a turkey, and Santa Claus, each of whom tucks him back into bed with a seasonally appropriate story. It’s a cute idea, and the story’s structure is nicely rhythmic. Painterly paneled- and full-page illustrations are both festive and cozy.

Cuyler, Margery  Groundhog Stays Up Late
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Walker     2005
Trade ISBN 0-0827-8939-0
Library binding ISBN 0-8027-8940-4

Illustrated by Jean Cassels. When winter comes, Groundhog refuses to hibernate. He’d rather play. But his decision to frolic rather than rest backfires when he grows hungry, cold, and lonely. Groundhog thinks he solves his problem by declaring an early spring, only to be tricked in turn by his woodland friends. Appealing gouache illustrations lend additional satisfaction to a smoothly told tale.

Hill, Susanna Leonard  April Fool, Phyllis!
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Holiday     2011
Trade ISBN 978-0-8234-2270-8

Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Thinking Punxsutawney Phyllis’s April first blizzard warnings are a prank, the town goes ahead with its spring treasure hunt; throughout the story are clues readers can follow. When the groundhog kits are caught in a snowstorm, it’s clever Phyllis who leads them back to the burrow. The accompanying brown-hued acrylic illustrations are rich in detail and texture.

Holub, Joan  Groundhog Weather School
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Putnam     2009
Trade ISBN 978-0-399-24659-3

Illustrated by Kristin Sorra. From the humorous premise that a groundhog TV anchor needs support from field reporters to predict weather accurately, this combination of groundhog and weather lore emerges. The lighthearted approach features cartoon animals, documents from Groundhog Weather School, puns (“geHOGraphy”), a rogue skunk, speech balloons, a cutaway of a groundhog burrow — and even some bona fide history and meteorology.

Jenkins, Emily  A Greyhound, a Groundhog
PS    32 pp.     Random/Schwartz & Wade     2017
Trade ISBN 978-0-553-49805-9
Library binding ISBN 978-0-553-49806-6
Ebook ISBN 978-0-553-49807-3

Illustrated by Chris Appelhans. A greyhound and groundhog frolic playfully in this wonderfully illustrated, lyrical tongue-twister of a picture book. “A round hound, a grey dog, a round little hound dog. / A greyhog, a ground dog, a hog little hound dog.” The words are as spare as the pencil and watercolor brushstrokes, and both — like the delightful butterflies the animals encounter — are quietly astounding.

Koscielniak, Bruce  Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather
Gr. K–3     32 pp.      Houghton     1995
Trade ISBN 0-395-70933-4

Young Geoffrey Groundhog becomes the victim of media hype. It happens when he makes an innocent trip to the town newspaper to report an early spring the first year he has the responsibility for checking his shadow. The tongue-in-cheek tale is made humorous by good-natured, softly colored cartoonlike illustrations.

Miller, Pat  Substitute Groundhog
Gr. K–3     32 pp.      Whitman      2006
Trade ISBN 0-8075-7643-3

Illustrated by Kathi Ember. When Groundhog gets the flu the day before Groundhog’s Day, he has to find a substitute. The book’s illustrations are bright and cheery, and children are likely to enjoy the story in spite of some minor logical inconsistencies (for instance, the substitute audition process seems much more arduous than popping out of a hole to forecast the weather).

Swallow, Pamela Curtis  Groundhog Gets a Say
Gr. K–3     40 pp.    Putnam     2005
Trade ISBN 0-399-23876-X

Illustrated by Denise Brunkus. As an unimpressed crow and squirrel heckle him and a young groundhog idolizes him, Groundhog holds forth on the merits of his species. Swallow’s great affection for this undersung rodent comes across in the fact-filled but far-from-dull text. Brunkus’s witty cartoons collude with the lively text: what looks like another silly Groundhog Day spoof is actually a remarkably informative story.

 

Easy readers

Johnson, Crockett  Will Spring Be Early? Or Will Spring Be Late?
Gr. K–3     48 pp.     HarperCollins/Harper     2016
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-243037-3

Reissue, 1959, Crowell. This book is reissued in a format well suited to beginning readers. Misled by an artificial flower, Groundhog tells the forest animals that “Spring is here!” Grumpy Pig proves Groundhog wrong and is blamed for more snow. Johnson’s simple compositions and entertaining text are pleasingly child-centered.

McNamara, Margaret  Groundhog Day
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Simon/Aladdin     2006
Library binding ISBN 1-4169-0508-1
Paperback ISBN 1-4169-0507-3

Illustrated by Mike Gordon. Ready-to-Read: Robin Hill School series. In this entry, Mrs. Connor’s first-grade class celebrates Groundhog Day, using Chester the hamster to make their spring predictions. Humorously appealing illustrations, attractive topics, and engaging, simple stories keep this series working for new readers.

Ruelle, Karen Gray  Great Groundhogs!: A Harry & Emily Adventure
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Holiday     2005
Trade ISBN 0-8234-1930-4
Paperback ISBN 0-8234-1964-9

Holiday House Readers series. In their latest holiday book, cat siblings Harry and Emily get ready for Groundhog Day. They do research about groundhogs; dig some inviting holes; set out a tempting snack; and wait long hours for a groundhog to arrive. Readers can smile at their amusing efforts while admiring their resourcefulness. Illustrations featuring chunky, simply drawn felines enhance the story’s humor.

 

Nonfiction

Gibbons, Gail  Groundhog Day!
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Holiday     2007
Trade ISBN 978-0-8234-2003-2

Gibbons loosely links contemporary observations of Punxsutawney Phil’s behavior with ancient spring rites, provides some information about groundhog habits, and includes other famous groundhogs. White borders set off her characteristic colorful illustrations and a final page digs up seven additional groundhog facts, each with its own small illustration.

Phillips, Dee  Groundhog’s Burrow
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Bearport     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-410-7

Hole Truth: Underground Animal Life series. Simple, well-placed text combined with labeled diagrams, thoughtful discussion questions, and attention-grabbing photographs will engage readers in this look at groundhogs’ burrows. An appended “Science Lab” activity offers more opportunities for reader interaction. Reading list. Glos., ind.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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