Fooling Fox: Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox by Susan Blackaby
ON THE SECOND DAY OF FEBRUARY, A
GROUNDHOG NAMED BROWNIE WOKE UP.
It's time to get up and off to work for Brownie, as she sleepily heads outside, toting a basket of snacks, on her annual search for signs of spring.
Her first sight, however, is not a bluebird or a budding blossom; it's a red fox, not exactly the sort of leading indicator she's hoping for.
"I DON'T SUPPOSE YOU'VE NOTICE ANY SIGNS OF SPRING?" SAID BROWNIE.
THE FOX'S TUMMY GRUMBLED. "YOU,"
But it's not meteorology on Fox's mind. It's breakfast, and he sees Brownie as a possible item on his menu.
But Brownie is now wide awake, and she quickly comes up with a ploy to fool the fox. Too late; it's way past breakfast time, she points out and manages to trick the naive fox into whetting his appetite with a bit of ice skating on the pond first. When Fox finally tires of this activity and wants to return to the main course, Brownie points out that it's now way past lunchtime and Fox will have to wait until dinner.
"I WANT TO EAT YOU NOW!" SAID THE FOX. "NO MORE WAITING!"
Brownie sympathizes, pointing out that groundhogs know all about waiting, as she leads him over to a tree and helps him get settled for the feast. Quickly she ties him to the tree with her red scarf and bids him a cheery goodbye.
Fox sobs and whimpers pitifully, and Brownie sees that this may be a window of opportunity for a negotiation that will make her safe from Fox whenever she emerges from her burrow. Opening up her goodie basket, she makes him an offer she knows he can't refuse.
Susan Blackaby's new Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox (Sterling, 2011) offers a change of pace in groundhog stories. Brownie is no shy and shrinking spring violet, and Fox is not your usual wily trickster in this cheerful Groundhog Day saga. Blackaby's snowscape illustrations are deftly accented with touches of red, giving this slender tale of friendship found a warm and inviting look just right for midwinter story times.