Cover of An Invitation to the Butterfly Ball by Jane Yolen

An Invitation to the Butterfly Ball

Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Parents Magazine Press, 1976; Boyds Mills
ISBN # 0-8193-0799-8 Parents hardcover
ISBN # 0-399-20972-7 Parents paperback
ISBN # 1-878093-61-4 Boyds Mills hardcover
ISBN # 0-399-20972-7 Boyds Mills paperback

I wrote the first draft of this counting rhyme on the drive home from New York City. Normally a three hour drive, it took me over five hours as I kept pulling off the road to scribble stuff down. Revisions took another couple of days. Very rare for me to work so quickly. The repetitive verse, in which the animals try to get ready for a party, quickly becomes part of the young read-to’s cultural respiration. First published in 1976 by Parents Magazine Press. The Press editor at the time, Selma Lanes, introduced me to the young artist Jane Zalben who soon became a good friend. Her delicious little party-going animals make the book, I think. Next the book was put into paperback by Philomel. Then when both editions were out of print, Boyds Mills Press picked it up. It remains a steady seller there to this day. A Junior Literary Guild selection. Also published in England.


  • On the Babbling Bookworm Annual List 1976
  • On School Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year 1976
  • A Junior Literary Guild Choice 1976

What reviewers have said:

  • “This happy collaboration between a gifted author and an inventive illustrator adds up to a counting rhyme of rare artistry and charm.”—School Library Journal
  • “One of the most captivating books of the season.”—Learning Magazine
  • “(The illustrations) have lots of movement and special treats for the eye in their meticulous detail…(Yolen’s) verses make it fun for the little ones to attempt the mastery of numbers.”—Publishers Weekly