Saturday, October 15, 2016

Groundhog's Runaway Shadow

Groundhog's Runaway Shadow
written and illustrated by David Biedrzycki
2016 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Grown-up groundhogs are expected to act a certain way. But Phil's shadow had other plans.

When Phil Groundhog sings "Pretty hippos out walkin' with gorillas down my street!", I'm all in for this book. You see, Phil gets his mojo from his shadow. When he feels small, his shadow makes him feel so much bigger. Everything is just better with his shadow. But as Phil grows up and moves from a backpack to a briefcase, he and his shadow seem to be outgrowing each other. Phil wants to go to the local beach for his vacation. His shadow dreams of Italy and other faraway places. Phil wants to be punctual. His shadow, not so much. The shadow's sometimes sophomoric behavior causes this relationship to reach a tipping point and Phil grumbles to his shadow "I wish you would just go away." And he does. Shadow finds his way to Paris and Egypt while leaving Phil behind in Punxsutawney. Phil posts missing notes in the newspaper and on telephone poles, but to no avail. News trickles in that a mysterious shadow is capturing the fancy of the media. Shadow finds his way to the White House and a meeting with the Queen. Phil realizes he misses his fun friend. Meanwhile, Shadow realizes that having fun is not so much fun if you don't have anyone to share it with. Can this formerly friendly duo find each other again?

Don't wait until February 2nd to share this with your class. Yes, the main character is a groundhog, but this book is more about friendship. How do we maintain our friendships? How can we be ourselves and still be friends? These and other important questions can be discussed. Students will love the antics of Shadow. He's quite a showman. Teachers will love the opportunity to compare two characters in the same story. You don't need to see your shadow to know that this book is a winner.

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