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Author: Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrator: Jeffrey Ebbeler

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Publisher: Holiday House,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Punxsatawney Phyllis knows what she wants. She wants to take over Groundhog's Day duties from her famous Uncle Phil. It doesn't matter that the other adults and her brothers laugh at her. Phyllis senses that an early spring is coming, and once again, no one believes her. Not even groggy Uncle Phil ... until he goes above ground. This picture book embeds lots of weather facts and groundhog lore in a story about a persevering groundhog.

Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, playtime reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 9; read yourself: 9 to 12

Interest Level: 4 to 9

Reading Level: 3.5

Age of Child: Read with two boys, ages 4 and 6.

Young Reader Reaction: My boys liked this book, but we didn't read it a lot.

Adult Reader Reaction: Parent 1: There is so much to love about this book. The illustrations are fun, and the author has packed the story with lots of great information. Phyllis is both adorable and a wonderful character. She is smart (she studied the weather), persistent, respectful, and cute.

Parent 2: I did not like this book. Even though, in the end the girl wins the fight and proves you don't have to be a BOY to be the BEST one for the job, I'd like to think that I don't have to FIGHT to teach my boys that lesson! The story says Phyllis can have the job as an exception to the rule, i.e., overriding the status quo. But the status quo was wrong to begin with. Cute story, but it touched some sore spots on my feminist pride. Not a story I want to read to my children -- I don't want them thinking that the status quo was there to begin with!

Pros: Parent 1: Even though this is a winter story, this is a book that can be enjoyed all year round ... especially when you need a story with a smart, science-oriented girl.

Parent 2: Energetic illustrations are fun and wonderful. Story engages a sense of JOY at being alive! Phyllis is truly an inspirational character!

Cons: Some readers may see this as presenting stereotyping of gender roles / the glass ceiling. It would be nice, though, to stretch the book by including a glossary, not just a Groundhog Day history. Most of us don't know what a spring zephyr is.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a fun story to share. Although Phyllis is a girl, the story will resonate with young boys, too (especially those who have a sister!).


Educational Themes: There are lots of facts about winter and the onset of spring you can explore. Although this is fiction, there is plenty of information (and visuals if you explore the illustrations) about groundhog habits and habitat. You can also talk about family, choices, dreams, and perseverence, too.

Notes: The author donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. The Reading Tub reviewed the book in conjunction with an Author Showcase feature. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, animal characters, weather, seasons

Date(s) Reviewed: November 2010, March 2011

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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