Denise Bunkus (Illustrator); Pamela C. Swallow
On February 3, after the crowds of humans have dispersed, Groundhog bemoans the fickleness of being a once-a-year wonder. "I don't get it. Where is everybody? Yesterday I was BIG news, a star, king of the mound! Everyone wanted my weather report. Today . . . nothing!" Listening to and commenting on his tirade are a trio of animals: a sarcastic crow ("He's already the only animal with a national holiday . . . unless you count the turkey."); a red squirrel; and a younger, smaller, starstruck groundhog wearing thick-rimmed black specs, who is hard at work recording Groundhog's every word. In the comical watercolor and colored pencil illustrations, the younger groundhog has a flash camera around his neck, a recording device on his back, a microphone attached to his head, and is also taking notes with a pencil on a notepad. Oblivious to the ascerbic asides from the crow and squirrel, the big, brown, self-centered fellow delivers an impassioned soliloquy, expounding on his own singular talents. For instance, did you know groundhogs are also called whistle pigs? They whistle when they're in danger. They're also called woodchucks. He says, "If only I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, 'How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?'" (Stop reading the story at this point, and have your listeners recite that classic tongue twister a few times.)
Groundhog points out the layout of his burrow on a large poster, describes how he deals with predators, and shows off his fabulous teeth that can gnaw through roots and chatter loud enough to scare off enemies. Finally, he describes the details of his hibernation each winter. By the end of his lecture, your listeners may consider themselves marmotophiles and agree with him that February should be Groundhog Appreciation Month. The young groundhog reporter declares, "You're the Hog!" and on the final page, you'll see he's turned his notes into the very book you're reading.
Themes : ANIMALS. SEASONS.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- Swallow presents quite a bit of information about groundhogs in an entertaining story…Brunkus’ humorous, colorful illustrations portray the portly braggart and his companions with wry, apt expressions on their faces, conveying their annoyance, and, despite themselves, their curiosity.
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
Calmenson, Stephanie. The Frog Principal. Illus. by Denise Brunkus. Scholastic, 2001.
Cronin, Doreen. Diary of a Fly. HarperCollins, 2007.
Cronin, Doreen. Diary of a Spider. HarperCollins, 2005.
Cronin, Doreen. Diary of a Worm. HarperCollins, 2003.
Cuyler, Margery. Groundhog Stays Up Late. Walker, 2005.
Freeman, Don. Gregory’s Shadow. Puffin, 2002.
French, Jackie. Diary of a Wombat. Clarion, 2003.
Gibbons, Gail. Groundhog Day!Holiday House, 2007.
Gravett, Emily. Meerkat Mail. Macmillan, 2007.
Holub, Joan. Groundhog Weather School. Putnam, 2009.
Koscielniak, Bruce. Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather. Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
Kraft, Erik. Chocolatina. Illus. by Denise Brunkus. Scholastic, 2008, c1998.
Levine, Abby. Gretchen Groundhog, It’s Your Day! Albert Whitman, 1998.
Miller, Pat. Substitute Groundhog.Albert Whitman, 2006.
Old, Wendie C. The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun. Albert Whitman, 2004.
Park, Barbara. Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. Illus. by Denise Brunkus. Random House, 1993.
Swallow, Pam. Melvil and Dewey in the Chips. Libraries Unlimited, 2004.