Ella & Mrs Gooseberry: Book Review

What is love and how does it feel to you?

Title: Ella & Mrs. Gooseberry
Author: Vikki Conley
Illustrator: Penelope Pratley
ISBN: 9781925335255          Language: English

Classification: Fiction
Type: Picture Book
Themes: empathy, love, grief

What's it about?
Grumpy old Mrs. Gooseberry from next door has lost her love. "I didn't know you could lose love," says Ella. So she begins her quest to find out what love looks like and how she can help Mrs. Gooseberry to rediscover it. Her mother says love is like home-cooked pie. Her teacher says it's like lanterns in the night. Perhaps love might look like a little kitten...


  • The warmth of the story
  • The illustrations (especially the cute ginger kitten)


  • The moral

My Thoughts
This is a 2019 release by EKBooks that will release very shortly.

What I love about this book is that its heart is in the right place. This story is about Ella who notices
that her neighbour is a bit grumpy. Ella then embarks on asking different people what love is like. The answers she gets vary depending on the person and what they're passionate about.

Ella then embarks on asking different people what love is like. 

For me, the story falters only at the end. Ella's solution (which apparently works) is to leave a ginger kitten inside a box on the doorstep of Mrs. Gooseberry. Now, while this might be quite innocent in itself I have to wonder about whether it sends the right message - gifting pets to someone who isn't expecting it. I know there has been a big push in the past ten years or so by animal welfare agencies that pets should not be gifts (unless the receiver is fully aware of it) because animals can be expensive, ruin your house...I personally found the gifting of the cat to be the wrong message. I would have preferred if Ella had dropped a note in the letterbox with a photo, knocked on her door to show her the kittens - anything other than dumping the kitten on the doorstep and hoping that the old lady would take care of it - remember Oliver in Oliver and Company?

 "...people find enjoyment and love in different things."

I think this book has the potential to look at how people find enjoyment and love in different things - kind of like a "What Makes Your Happy?" task for the classroom. It could be used as an icebreaker activity at the beginning of the year or as an art project for self-care.

While I take issue with the gifting of the kitten it also could be used as a specific teaching point. I remember using David Goes to School where one of my students objected that David received a sticker for cleaning the desk that had been issued as a consequence. That book caused a great discussion around ethics/right and wrong. The same could be done here and perhaps an activity looking at what else Ella could have done first or in conjunction with the kitten would allow a brainstorming of ideas but also look at cause and effect.

Thank you to EK Books for the ARC.

1 comment

  1. This book has such impressive illustrations. It’s a shame to hear about the giving of pets. Thirty years ago that was standard, now it’s just irresponsible. Glad I read this before purchasing.