cover image Gretchen Groundhog, It's Your Day!

Gretchen Groundhog, It's Your Day!

Abby Levine. Albert Whitman & Company, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8075-3058-0

Young Gretchen must carry on the family tradition of stepping out on the morning of February 2 to search for her shadow, but she is too shy to ""Go Out"" and face the crowd of people. With letters, e-mail, phone calls and visits, the townsfolk urge her to reconsider. Levine's (Ollie Knows Everything) tale turns hokey when the town historian's daughter arrives with a box of notes penned by Gretchen's ancestors (Goody Groundhog, who sailed on the Mayflower; George Groundhog, who fought at Valley Forge; and Gloria Groundhog, movie star), all confessing their fear of ""Going Out."" Emboldened by their words, Gretchen rises to the task, after she, too, jots down ""a few lines"" to place in the history box. Cote (Flip-Flops) peppers her cheery if occasionally stiff illustrations with some droll details: a quilt with an acorn motif, a book entitled Down Under. But the author shortchanges readers: they never get to read the message that Gretchen passes on to posterity, nor do they learn, when her big moment finally arrives, whether or not she spies her shadow. Gretchen's big day ends in anticlimax. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)