Go to Sleep, Groundhog, by Judy Cox

Go to Sleep, Groundhog by Judy Cox

“Groundhog went to bed on Columbus Day, just like he always did…”

Unfortunately, he’s not headed for a good night’s sleep. In Go to Sleep, Groundhog, the pointy-nosed groundhog puts on his jammies and sets his alarm clock, but after curling into his cozy bed, he just tosses and turns all night. He checks his clock – which says “half-past October” –  then goes for a stroll under the full moon outside his burrow. And to his surprise, all the houses are decorated with pumpkins!

“He saw things he’d never seen before! Raggedy scarecrows and grinning jack-o’-lanterns. Children dressed up like pirates, cowboys, and princesses…”

It’s a funny story that lets children enjoy a new perspective on other holidays throughout the year. Eventually the groundhog returns to bed, but he tries another stroll at half-past November, and discovers – again – “things he’d never seen before!  Tall yellow corn shocks and round orange pumpkins. Turkeys gobbling in the barnyard…” He returns to bed to try to sleeping again, but just ends up seeing even stranger sights in December.

Author Judy Cox adds an especially warm touch to the story, since the wayward groundhog is always coaxed back to his bed by someone appropriate for the holiday. In October, it’s a smiling Halloween Witch, who flies him home on her broomstick, gives him a glass of cider, tucks him in and even reads him a story. For Thanksgiving it’s a grand flying turkey, who also tucks in the groundhog, reads him a story (about pilgrims), and gives him a slice of pumpkin pie. And you’ll never guess who his escort is at Christmas time. It’s Santa Claus himself, who flies down in his sleigh, and asks – like everybody else – “What are YOU doing up?”

Paul Meisel really seemed to enjoy illustrating this book, filling the pages with simple colorful acrylic pictures for each of the festive holidays. And there’s a secret second story lurking this book’s illustrations, since the groundhog’s tree burrow is shared by a friendly mouse! He watches silently each time the groundhog wakes up early, and curls up next to him on the pillow when the groundhog returns to bed. When it’s finally February 2nd – Groundhog Day – the little mouse follows him up the burrow’s sunny stairs, where he shares in the book’s funniest moment. “What am I doing up?” the groundhog asks. “There are six more weeks of winter coming!

“I should be in bed!”

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