Maybe because the story is told in rhyme? Whatever the reason, my students absolutely love this story when I read it to them. I've used it teaching K, 1, 2, and now 3rd grade. They don't even realize it's a math book until we begin to act out the story, using manipulatives. Years ago I used to give them individual raisin boxes (!) but they became a little too pricey for my budget, plus being sticky (and younger students had a tendency to eat the ants!).
Now I use this little activity packet, which I'm sharing with you. If you are not familiar with this book may I recommend it to you -- it can be used to address a number of benchmarks. Just click the picture to get the packet.