Whistle Pig School: Groundhog Weather School by JoanHolub
HAPPY GROUNDHOG'S DAY!
I DO NOT SEE MY SHADOW. THAT MEANS SPRING IS HERE!
Rabbit takes the word of his friendly neighborhood groundhog seriously. "YAHOO!" he rejoices, as he joyously dons his tropical shirt and shades and clambers up out of his burrow to greet the spring.
Rabbit is greeted by a snowy scene and freezing weather. "I guess it's really hard to predict the weather," he grumbles sadly, and dashes off a letter to Weather Groundhog, suggesting he train some apprentices to help him gather more data for next year. "Hmmmm," says Professor Groundhog, who sees an opportunity to advance his profession here. Soon he's fashioned a catchy ad to attract students for his new venture:
HAVE YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A WEATHER FORECASTER?
TAKE THIS QUIZ AND CHECK ALL THAT APPLY!
Requirements are stringent. Applicants must be mammals, rodents, furry, burrow-dwelling, and hibernation prone. More than a few good woodchucks make the cut, including one interloper, Skunk, who meets all the conditions except the last one. He tries bedding down by December, but January finds him wide-awake and hungry. Still, he sneaks into the matriculating class ("I'm an exchange student," he explains.)
With fresh shiny faces in line, Professor Groundhog's Weather School welcomes its freshman class for introductory lectures in GeHOGraphy, and the Prof takes them through the history of Groundhog's Day, the various names for their species (woodchuck, whistle pig) their habitat (Northeastern and central North America) and some famous icons of Hognostication--Punxatawney Phil of Pennsylvania, Pierre C. Shadeaux of Louisiana (actually a nutria, but hey, he's a Cajun sensation!) Buckeye Chuck of Ohio, Sir Walter Wally of Raleigh, North Carolina, General Beauregard Lee Lilburn of Georgia, and Staten Island Chuck of, of course, New York. "Is this going to be on the test?" whines one typical student.
But when the day for the Big Test rolls around, Professor Groundhog's class proves themselves, er, well-grounded in groundhog lore, and he's all ready to roll out his group prediction by the upcoming February 2 deadline. Will groupthink trump the Professor's call this year, or will Rabbit be disappointed yet again when he peeps out of his hole?
Joan Holub's brand-new Groundhog Weather School (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2011) provides a nifty way to take youngsters through a good deal of weather lore and information, all within the boundaries of a tongue-in-cheek tale that can brighten this year's Groundhog Day whether it's sunny or not. Prolific children's author Holub (The 100th Day of School (Hello Reader!, Level 2) combines her narrative skills with Kristin Sorra's arresting mixed-media art to make a book that kids will want to pour over for all the delicious tidbits of groundhog humor in both text and illustrations, joining Gail Gibbons' standard, Groundhog Day! and recent "hognosticators" such as Ten Grouchy Groundhogs, Go To Sleep, Groundhog! Gretchen Groundhog, It's Your Day! Punxsutawney Phyllis and Substitute Groundhog in the lineup of storytime tales for this just-for-fun holiday.
Oh, and Rabbit, just in case, pack earmuffs AND your sunglasses for that overnight on February 1. It IS hard to predict the weather!