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*Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox* by Susan Blackaby, illustrated by Carmen Segovia
Also by Susan Blackaby:

Nest, Nook, and Cranny
Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox
by Susan Blackaby, illustrated by Carmen Segovia
Grades PreK-2 32 pages Sterling January 2011 Hardcover    

A clever story of adversaries becoming friends, Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox captures the feeling we all have when it seems an eternity until spring will finally arrive.

Brownie the groundhog wakes up on February 2. Much to her dismay she sees her shadow and realizes she must wait six more weeks until spring. A hungry fox comes by, wanting to eat the groundhog. Never scared, Brownie tells him that he must wait: it is too late for breakfast and too early for lunch.

The pair then goes off into the woods to look for signs of spring. Still trying to stall the fox, Brownie convinces him that he must work up an appetite by clearing the snow off the pond. The two soon approach a friendship as they glide together across the ice. Finally, the fox can wait no longer - he’s really hungry!

Brownie ties him to a tree trunk with her scarf and walks away. When the fox begins to cry pitifully, Brownie returns to the tree with a promise of a snack, and the two share a treat while the fox is still tied up. Finally, they see their first sign of spring as a bird comes to take a piece of yarn from Brownie’s scarf. In the end, the two new friends walk home together planning to spend time and share another snack tomorrow.

With a highly appealing format, the acrylic and ink illustrations extend the storyline as they express emotions and actions beyond the narrative. It is a great story for pre-readers to retell based on the illustrations as the story is filled with dialog and action. The author’s word choice is especially strong, mixing alliteration and rhymes with vivid vocabulary and emotion-filled dialog. Children will immediately connect their own feelings of impatience with those of the groundhog and fox.

Most obviously a good choice for Groundhog’s Day, the story is certainly appropriate later in the winter as we all wait for signs of spring. Although the notion of fox wanting to eat the groundhog may be a little scary for some, the peaceful resolution sends a message of friendship and compromise.

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  Kristine Wildner/2011 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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