Book Review:  April Fool, Phyllis!
by Susanna Leonard Hill
published by Holiday House, 2011

It’s April Fool’s Day, and Phyllis Groundhog, “Weather Prophet Extraordinaire”, senses a blizzard is making its way to Punxsutawney. However, her family members think she’s just playing an April Fool’s joke. A blizzard will ruin their Spring Treasure Hunt. Ignoring her warning, the youngsters start on the treasure hunt, finding three clues. When the blizzard arrives, can Phyllis bring them to safety?

This book has so many levels or themes for teachers and parents to discuss. Learning about the origins of maple syrup and how its harvested is important to understanding the sap line in the book. My kids watched a couple of You Tube videos about maple tree farms. Phyllis is also an expert on weather forecasting. Another great science topic! Susanna’s author note at the end of the story tells the history of April Fool’s Day and other countries’ similar celebration. Children will fall in love with the cuddly groundhog that Jeffrey Ebbeler has brought to life with his beautiful paintings.

Activities to do with April Fool, Phyllis:

1. Write April Fool’s jokes.
2. Locate Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and read about Groundhog Day.
3. Graph the weather in your area and write a weekly forecast.
4. Watch a video or read about how maple syrup is harvested from the trees. Write a how-to paragraph. Younger children could illustrate the process.
5. How bad can a blizzard be? Discuss blizzard conditions.
6. Make a treasure hunt with clues.
7. Eat pancakes with maple syrup or find maple candy.
8. Visit the author’s web site for more activities and information.