Bond's latest is a disjointed and ultimately disappointing picture book that promises an adventure it doesn't delivers. Vladimir, a young groundhog living with his family in the hills, runs away to avoid the annual hibernation. The first thing he does, however, is curl up in a new hole and fall into a deep sleep. Emerging at winter's end, he is startled by his shadow, lets out a shout and believes he has thus scared the ``monster'' away. (In fact, a cloud has conveniently covered the sun, although young children may not make this connection.) Vladimir hurries home and never runs away again. What could have been a rich starting point fizzles: one wishes that Vladimir's quest for independence had led to something a trifle more spirited than a good snooze, and that his adventures had exceeded an unexceptional dream and a short-lived scare over his shadow. The text is flat and the art cartoony; the two often work against rather than complement one another and give off only a trace of the warmth and affection Bond's fans have enjoyed in previous books. Ages 4-8. (September)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2 Vladimir is a groundhog living in the desert who runs away from home to avoid hibernating. Finally he digs a hole and sleeps through the winter, dreaming about surfing and being a cowboy. One dream wakes him up. He climbs out of the hole and is frightened by a shadow monster which disappears, so he runs home and never leaves again. Colorful illustrations are the highlight of the story, although they depict a different story than the text, showing groundhogs with their shadows even though shadows are not mentioned. If there is a purpose to the story, it is lost in its confusing messagesnortheastern groundhogs shown in southwestern deserts; groundhogs worrying about their February shadows in a lush green setting; and a stubborn runaway child deciding to return home for no obvious reason. Even librarians desperate for Groundhog Day stories would be better without one than trying to warp this to fit the bill. Nancy A. Gifford, Schenectady County Public Library, N.Y.