April Fool, Phyllis! is a picture book by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. It's the story of a groundhog named Phyllis who predicts a blizzard on April 1st. Alas, no one believes her (because of it being April Fool's Day and all). But when all the little groundhogs are out partaking in their annual scavenger hunt, a blizzard does come. Fortunately (if a tiny bit too easily), Phyllis is able to save the day, and solve the second layer of clues to the scavenger hunt to boot.
There's a lot going on in this book. April Fool's Day pranks, pancakes, a treasure hunt, a bit of information about sap lines and sugar houses, and a perilous blizzard. A one-page end note explains the origins and customs of April Fool's Day. It is pretty text-dense for a picture book, and the dialog is sometimes a bit trite (e.g. "All's well that ends well," said Aunt Sassy). But I do like the way that the treasure hunt clues are all shown as notes (rather than inline with the text), and I think that young readers will enjoy trying to solve the clues themselves.
Ebbeler's acrylic paint illustrations are detailed and textured. The picture of a plate of pancakes "flooded" with syrup is quite enticing, and Phyllis, in her little green overalls and worried expression, is pretty cute. There's a certain joyfulness to some of the illustrations that stands out. And Phyllis has a pretty cool weather lookout up in a tree.
All in all, I think that this is a useful addition to the world of holiday-specific picture books. It's a fun read for Groundhog Day and April Fool's Day, making it a double win. Recommended for libraries and winter-themed read-aloud sessions, especially in places where the sap runs.
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
Source of Book: Library copy
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Marie-Therese Miller
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