The Invitation

Groundwood. Apr. 2023. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781773066615.
Gr 1-3–Fern, more topiary than girl, living in a resplendent Victorian setting, is worried when she sees a mysterious yellow envelope in her mailbox. Instead of opening it, she continues to worry. Her friend Fawn, an actual fawn in trousers, convinces her to open it, and it announces a surprise at the museum. Fern does not like surprises. Fern is a worrier, a what-iffer, that child who frets every step of the way, who must be dragged along by her friend who demonstrates a patience that readers may not feel. Fowles, with perfect timing, imbues Fern with a flash of self-awareness, prodded by Fawn, and she has a splendid time. This is an ideal book for anxious children, who may not see themselves in the story’s early pages but will nevertheless be reassured by the last ones. Lafrance’s charming limited palette of greens and golds in intricate line work recalls Maurice Sendak’s first books; the scenes provide plenty to pore over in an unforgettable gala that is full of surprises for all.
VERDICT Anxiety is real, and Fowles takes it on in a loving way, giving children a safe way to ask all the questions they need in this delectable and ultimately calming outing.

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