Punxsutawney Phyllis

written by Susanna Leonard Hill
illustrated by Jeffery Ebbeler
Holiday House
ISBN 978-0823420407
Paperback PB 32p

Phyllis is not like other groundhogs. She loves to splash in the cold river in springtime, roast in the summer sun, and tromp through the winter snow. Every kind of weather makes Phyllis happy.

This year on February 2, Phyllis is excited because she can feel that an early spring is in the air. But how will she ever get old Uncle Phil out of bed to make his official Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Day prediction?

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  • An Amelia Bloomer Project Feminist Books For Youth Selection
  • A Book List Children’s Pick


Kindergarten-Grade 3–Phyllis, a brightly clad groundhog, loves to be outdoors in all types of weather. Her uncle is Punxsutawney Phil, and she dreams of one day taking over his job, even though everyone tells her that she can’t because she is a girl. One February morning, she wakes up and sees that the snow is melting, the brook is running, and the air smells sharp–all indicators of an early spring. When her sleepy uncle is reluctant to get out of bed, she volunteers to make his prediction for him. Uncle Phil objects, thinking that one of his sons will take his place when the time comes. Still, he invites her to accompany him outside, where he sniffs the air and forecasts six more weeks of winter. However, Phyllis insists there will be an early spring, pointing out all of the signs. Uncle Phil admits that he is wrong, decides to retire, and turns his job over to his niece even though she’s a girl–because rules can be bent once in a while. Details about the origins of Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil are appended. Ebbeler’s full-bleed acrylic illustrations show an exuberant Phyllis skipping through a brook, sunbathing, and munching on berries. The woodland landscapes are bright and lush. The burrow scenes are rustic, cozy, and filled with patchwork quilts and comfy furniture. A welcome addition, especially when Groundhog Day is close at hand.–Linda Staskus, Parma Regional Library, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

K-Gr. 3. When groundhog Phyllis grows up, she wants to be Punxsutawney Phil, the official weather forecaster on Groundhog Day. Unfortunately, as her family points out, Punxsutawney Phil has never been a girl. Phyllis knows she can do the job, though, and when she wakes on February 2, and recognizes the signs of an early spring that her old uncle Phil misses, everyone realizes her dreams aren’t so farfetched. Charming, full-color acrylic paintings detail Phyllis and other cute, clothing-clad groundhogs cozy at home and out in the snow. Some energetic family banter enlivens the straightforward text, which presumes some knowledge of the tradition, which is explained in a note aimed at adults who are reading this to kids. The colorful, cozy, and plucky Phyllis, who knows her talents and finds a way to use them, is the main attraction here. Shelle Rosenfeld
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From Booklist

Why does the groundhog who predicts the arrival of springtime have to be Punxsutawney Phil? “Why can’t it be me?” wonders Phyllis, who loves the outdoors, the spring rains, all the weather. The grown-ups say it has to be a “fellow.” But one Groundhog Day, Uncle Phil just does not want to wake up and do his job. Phyllis is eager to do it, insisting she can feel that spring is coming early. Uncle Phil takes her out with him to try to show her she is wrong. But she points out all the signs of spring she can see and feel. When they go back underground, Uncle Phil not only admits that she is right; he retires in her favor rather than the other “fellows.” Acrylic paintings on oak veneer provide a comic zing to the visual story of the anthropomorphic family. Phyllis, in particular, with her sassy attitude and bright smiles, is the charming moving spirit, while Uncle Phil is almost Dickensian in character with his frock coat and top hat. A final page answers the questions of “What is Groundhog Day?” and “Who is Punxsutawney Phil?” 2005, Holiday House, Ages 4 to 8.

Children’s Literature – Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz

This is by far the best Groundhog Day picture book I’ve seen. The author and illustrator stay true to the facts and give us a beautiful storyline and amusing drawings to go with it. The final page of the book explains the Groundhog Day tradition. Other reviewers see in these pages a message of empowerment for girls; I see an inspiration to youngsters of both sexes to be true to their convictions and talents. And if they have the right stuff, they can succeed at anything

C.H. Smith, Athol, MA

I enjoyed the storyline very much, it’s great for little girls. Encouraging for big girls too. The artwork was a joy: creative, subtle and endearing. I particularly enjoyed Phyllis’s Titanic pose in the midst of the spring zephyr. I bought five copies as gifts and one to keep

C. Schell, Loveland, OH