Groundhug Day by Anne Marie Pace released on Tuesday.
February holidays collide in this warm and funny story.
— Publisher’s Weekly starred review
Please tell us about your book.
GROUNDHUG DAY is a story of friendship and a story of problem solving. A group of forest animal friends are planning a Valentine’s Day party. As they put together the guest list, they realize that if Groundhog sees his shadow on February 2, he’ll go back into his hole and have to miss the party. They want their friend to be included, so they go to great lengths to make sure he can come.
What led you to this story?
I originally wrote it a magazine piece as a response to a call for holiday-themed submissions. It was turned down with lovely comments by both of the magazines where I submitted it, so I knew there was something to the premise; I just had to find the structure and story details that would work for a picture book. Rejections always sting a bit, but now I’m grateful for those two rejections because they led me to write the current version. I’m pleased with the way it turned out, and beyond thrilled with Christopher Denise’s beautiful illustrations.
GROUNDHUG DAY has a wonderful story structure. I enjoyed the escalating cycles of problems / attempts at solutions with fun elements of surprise woven in. Do you allow an underlying structure to guide your writing process or is this something you discover as you work?
I generally keep the rule of three in mind when I’m writing a picture book, but of course, the rule of three is a guideline, not something set in stone. So in Groundhug Day I extended the three to four in several places where the animals are disagreeing. I think it adds to the tension of their argument not to have a solution after three tries. And yet they persevere towards an answer that I think is very satisfactory for all of them. They don’t solve the problem in the way they’d hoped to, but they find a way to make it work.
As authors, it is such a thrill to see an illustrator’s interpretation of the stories we’ve created. Do you have a favorite character, image, or page spread from GROUNDHUG DAY? (I’m partial to turtlenecked, bespectacled Moose!)
Oh, goodness. Now you’ve given me an excuse to study Chris’s art again. Hmmm. Oh, lovely. Look at that. Wow. Okay, I’m ready to answer. I can’t say there’s a particular spread I like best, so I’ll tell you the elements I love best. I love the translucent pink balloons, I love the texture of Moose’s turtleneck, I love the chalkboard sketches when they are brainstorming, I love the colorful elements of the final page (which I won’t spoil), and most of all, I love the dedication page because it is so beautiful that I want to live there. Or at least have a cabin there. Gorgeous!
What is the importance of picture books?
What strikes me right now is that picture books are generally read by an adult to a child or group of children; they’re often kids’ first introductions to story, and stories are a huge part of how we learn, and grow, and make sense of the world. So they’re a gift to kids, really. And who doesn’t like giving gifts to kids? That’s today’s answer to a very big question. Ask me again tomorrow and I might come up with something else.