Ella and Mrs Gooseberry
EK Books, 2019
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
When Mrs Gooseberry was in her front yard she always seemed grumpy, slamming her door and making the children afraid to ask for their ball when they accidentally kick it into her yard. But when Ella, who lived next door, saw Mrs Gooseberry in her backyard, it was a different story. She had a lovely vegetable garden and chickens that she talked to and she seemed happy. Confused, Ella asks her mum how a person could be grumpy in their front yard yet happy in the back and she learns that Mrs Gooseberry has “lost her love.” That confuses her even more because she didn’t know that you could lose love and whether it might be found again.
She asks the important adults in her life what love is and gets a different answer from each one, and gradually realises that love can be many things. When she sees her cat’s kittens snuggling into their mother’s warm tummy, she has an idea…
This is a charming story that will help young readers understand that love can take many forms and it doesn’t always have to be encased in the words, “I love you.” It can be expressed in the things we do (or don’t do); the way we look at and treat others; the care we take; the extra gestures or actions we make… It is an ideal way for them to start thinking about how those who are important to them show their love and how they reciprocate those feelings. It cries out for an activity where children inscribe one side of a heart with “My —— loves me because —–” and the other side with “I love —– because —-” where the blanks are filled with the little personal things that show love without being words. Apart from raising awareness of how they are loved, it might also inspire them to think of new ways to express their love such as cleaning their room or doing the dishes so the adults have one less thing to do. And perhaps it might show those who think they have lost their love, that they haven’t – it’s just in a different shape now.