Personal Leave! Groundhog's Day Off by Robb Pearlman
EVERY YEAR, ON ONE SPECIAL DAY IN FEBRUARY,
GROUNDHOG WAKES UP EXTRA EARLY.
CROWDS OF PEOPLE GATHER OUTSIDE.
NEWS REPORTERS WITH LARGE MICROPHONES AND BIG, SHINY TEETH ARE WAITING.
The mayor will be there, with concerned citizens, along with the media--all with one question, the same boring question--will winter last six more weeks, or will spring begin today?
Groundhog is over the hoopla and weary of his celebrity. All the people care about is the message. Forget the messenger, who lies awake on the night before February 2, worrying about making the right call. They only want one thing--just the facts, Groundhoggy!
NO ONE ASKS "HOW ARE YOU FEELING?" OR HAVE YOU SEEN ANY GOOD MOVIES LATELY?"
Groundhog is sick of being thought of as a one-trick pony. This year will be different. Toward the end of January, he posts a letter informing the citizenry that he taking February 2 off. And, not only that. . .
P.S.: I'M TAKING MY SHADOW WITH ME!
While Groundhog swaps the frenzy for a few days off at the spa, the mayor and the media are in a mess. They advertise widely for someone to take on Groundhog's responsibilities. But the candidates that show up to audition are a motley lot.
Elephant can only get his trunk into Groundhog's den. Ostrich pokes his head into the hole rather than popping out of it on time. Bat, Owl, and 'Possum, nocturnals all, sleep right through the alarm. The others are no better: Penguin and Raccoon haven't a clue what to do, and Giraffe? GIRAFFE? Seriously?
Nobody can do the job Groundhog does. He's punctual and he's honest! He calls 'em like he sees 'em, even if it makes him unpopular. He's irreplaceable!
Luckily, by January 31 Groundhog has had enough of hot towels and scented candles and answers the call, and this time the media make sure he gets an up-close-and-personal interview on the famous couch of the late, late show on Groundhog's Eve.
Is all well that ends well? Well, there may be an unfortunate pattern trending. It seems the Easter Bunny has had it with the basket gig, and auditions for his position will be scheduled soon, in Robb Pearlman's Groundhog's Day Off (Bloomsbury Press, 2015). Pearlman's spoofy text pokes fun at media types and the always discontented public, and the noted Brett Helquist's bright and brash illustrations provide additional sight gags to add to the fun of the year's silliest holiday. Says Publishers Weekly in their starred review, "Pearlman has written an up-to-the minute mashup of American folklore and contemporary culture, expertly abetted by Helquist’s knowing illustrations. Yes, some grownups may see Groundhog’s 'You really, really like me!' speech coming from a mile away, but getting there is enormously fun."
Pair this one with Pat Miller's Substitute Groundhog, (see review here) for more will-he, won't-he spring suspense.