From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5 - Billin-Frye's illustrations are so engaging that readers may, at first glance, think that this is a simple picture book. However, the table of contents and densely packed pages of text tell a different story. The first chapter opens with a detailed description of an early morning scene on February 2 in Punxsutawney, PA: the crowds, the fireworks, the music, and the magical moment when the Groundhog Handler reaches into an artificial tree stump, rudely awakens furry Phil, and "listens" to his prediction. The writing sometimes succeeds at being lighthearted, but it's heavy going when the author uses words like "prognosticator," "verdict," and "groundhogeese." The high point of one chapter is the color-splashed painting of a happy, dancing crowd; a smiling man is holding aloft a puzzled groundhog that is thinking, "Why they're celebrating six more weeks of winter, I just don't know." Other chapters cover "The Reason for Seasons," facts about groundhogs, details about hibernation, the beginnings of the groundhog festival, other animals famous for predicting the weather, and directions for putting together a Groundhog Day party. Unfortunately, the information is not always clearly presented. The author also makes inscrutable decisions about which words to define and which to assume that kids will know. Teachers or parents using this book with children will need to pre-read and then provide some of their own explanations. Still, this title provides some important facts that will slake curiosity, some groan-evoking riddles, and consistently adorable illustrations. - Susan Weitz, Spencer-Van Etten Schools, Spencer, NY
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K-Gr. 3. Why does a groundhog seeing his shadow mean six more weeks of winter? Old explains this and more in her informative book about Groundhog Day. The book begins with an introduction to Punxsutawney Phil and shows how one groundhog started a holiday and a celebration in Pennsylvania. The book goes on to discuss the reasons seasons change (this chapter seems misplaced) and behavior, life cycle, and hibernation habits of groundhogs (aka woodchucks, whistle pigs, and marmots). There's also information about other animals around the world that perform the same function as Phil. Sprightly watercolor pictures jumping with cartoon-style groundhogs work hand in hand with the clearly stated information. Cute projects complete the package. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved