I usually find counting and sequential stories cumbersome to read. My tongue gets dry and twisted constantly repeating the same sentences over and over. But, An Invitation to the Butterfly Ball: A Counting Rhyme, by Jane Yolen is actually fun to read. This quirky book is about a little elf who goes to the homes of woodland animals with an invitation to a butterfly ball. Each animal in turn is frantic about not finding the perfect outfit or accessory to wear. The mouse needs a “floor length dress”, the rabbits are frantically searching for “baubles and laces”, and the skunks are looking for “one clean suit.” I also appreciate the use of descriptive vocabulary. There are plenty of opportunities to discuss the meaning of words such as “mournful”, “crimson”, and “silken.”
The watercolor illustrations pay homage to Beatrix Potter without being direct copies. Each painting incorporates intricate details that deserve more than a dismissive glance. They each tell a story within the story with characters and plot. Parents and older children will delight at the irony of skunks fighting over a pinstripe suit and turtles that wish to wear party slippers.
Unfortunately, this story is out of print and it will cost you upwards of $50 to buy a copy. Thankfully, we have public libraries. Or if enough of us harass her, maybe we can get Jane Yolen to publish it again.