Alex T Smith - Ella - Story Snug
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Ella by Alex T. Smith

I was looking for a picture book with a character who wore glasses and I found Ella, the story of an adorably feisty ladybird. It’s a great twist on the Cinderella story, all of the characters are insects. My daughter is currently fascinated by all kinds of insects (she’s quite happy to pick them up!) so she has lots of fun identifying the various bugs! It’s also a fabulous picture book to read for Valentine’s Day and even inspired us to make a Valentines Day ladybird headband.

The Story: Ella’s two waspy stepsisters, Belladonna and Ivy, treat her like a slave. When Pierre (an uninspired artist) invites the sisters to his Valentine’s Day Grand Bug Ball in Paris, Ella goes with them. While she is out exploring she bumps into Pierre who is intrigued by the beautiful ladybird. Once her stepsisters have gone to the ball Ella receives an invitation, a dress and a beautiful pair of glasses. At the ball Ella dances with Pierre but she forgets her glasses in her haste to leave before her sisters. Next day Pierre invites all the guests to try on the glasses and they fit Ella perfectly. Pierre regains his inspiration, paints a fantastic picture of Ella and they live happily ever after.

I love the idea of retelling a familiar story with a cast of insects. My daughter likes to identify all the bugs (our favourites are the worm and the snail, we love their twirly moustaches!). Pierre is a spider and I think that the idea of having a spider as a main character is brilliant, it’s great to show spiders in a positive light (especially for those children (and adults!) who may have a spider phobia!). The wasp sisters have suitably ‘waspish’ expressions and Ella’s ‘fairy godmother’, Ms Buzzbottom, is a bumblebee. The Grand Bug Ball takes place on a chandelier, my daughter is concerned that the insects don’t have enough room to dance but I think it’s a perfect setting (with no sign of any cobwebs!).

My daughter was immediately drawn to the flowery, glittery heart and the sparkly ladybird on the cover. Pinks, yellows and reds dominate the beautiful illustrations, there are two exceptions where the pages are darker to reflect Pierre’s sombre mood. The spreads are a mix of full page and smaller pictures and my daughter likes spotting Ms Buzzbottom who is on most of the pages. The action takes place close to The Eiffel Tower which is shown in several of the pictures and the Parisian setting is also reflected by the mini Eiffel Tower pictures on the invitations. The text is easy to read (with opportunities for speaking with a French accent!) and I like the use of a larger font to emphasise some of the words.

I love the twists that Alex T Smith has given to this familiar story which gives us opportunities to talk about Paris and do some bug spotting. Ella is such a strong character and she really deserves her happy ending. I wonder how Belladonna and Ivy are coping without her to dust their wings and wash their pillowcases!

Quote from Jessica (age 5): “I don’t like the wasp sisters. It’s not very kind if they never say thank you.”

We read Ella for Valentine’s Day and made our own ladybird Valentine headband. We used red card for the headband and added a face ( a semicircle of black card) with wobbly eyes. We gave our ladybird black heart spots, large pink heart wings and used small pink hearts stuck to pipe cleaners for the antennae.

Age Range: 3 +

Author / Illustrator: Alex T Smith


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36 responses to “Ella by Alex T. Smith”


  1. Nicola avatar

    Very cute headband craft. #letkidsbekids


    1. Catherine avatar

      It is a fun craft 🙂


  2. Merlinda (@pixiedusk) avatar

    We are learning how to read and write at the moment. My problem is that I can’t lure my son to read some more after school. Maybe doing some craft that is connected to the book will help! #letkidsbekids


    1. Catherine avatar

      Craft connected to a favourite book can often inspire a child, my daughter often comes up with her own ideas for crafts after we have read a story.


  3. Abigail avatar

    Oh! I like the idea of making crafts inspired by books read. The lady bug headband is so cute.


    1. Catherine avatar

      The headband is cute, it’s one of my favourite crafts. Books often inspire our craft activities 🙂


  4. Karen Bell avatar

    Sounds like a lovely book my girls would like. I love the ladybird headband too.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids


    1. Catherine avatar

      It is a really nice story, a great read for Valentine’s Day 🙂




  5. Louise avatar

    That sounds like a lovely book and nice to have a different take on a traditional story. I love the ladybird headband – am now tempted to make one of those with my little ones 🙂


    1. Catherine avatar

      The headbands are very easy to make. We drew round cookie cutters to make the hearts.


  6. Hope avatar

    Great book review, sounds interesting. My kids love bugs too! They love heading out into the garden to search for butterflies and lady beetles. Visiting from let kids be kids linky. x


    1. Catherine avatar

      This is a really great story. You could use the same pattern to make different bug headbands, they’re so easy and fun to make 🙂


  7. Eileen Teo avatar

    Lovely review and book! Thank you for sharing it with us #pintorials


    1. Catherine avatar

      You’re welcome, thanks for visiting 🙂


  8. Tarana Khan avatar

    Love that headband! We haven’t read this book yet, but I will check it out. #tuesdaytutorials


    1. Catherine avatar

      The headbands are really fun to make 🙂


  9. Janet avatar

    I had to comment because it’s so unusual to find a girl who likes bugs. We’re currently doing a study at our Science4Us online curriculum for science, and she’s loving it….and so am I because it’s interactive without the actual live bugs. Kidding….she still gets the interaction in a group that we have that meets at the park with a few other homeschooling families and the park ranger. Science and reading are her favorite subjects. I’ll be looking into this book for her. Thanks! 🙂


    1. Catherine avatar

      I am personally not a fan of bugs (especially spiders!) but luckily my daughter hasn’t realised that.
      Thank you for visiting Story Snug 🙂


  10. Ulrike A. avatar

    What a lovely idea for Valentines Day! I love the combination of reading a book and doing a craft to match it. We will be sure to check this one out!


    1. Catherine avatar

      The headbands are so simple to make but look so effective 🙂


  11. Jaymie Shook avatar

    I love the name Ella 🙂 Thanks so much for linking in to the KLBH!


    1. Catherine avatar

      You’re welcome! I think the name Ella is a great choice, it gives a hint of the Cinderella character 🙂


  12. Rhythm avatar

    This looks like a really cute book! We have a Ladybug Princess in our family who happens to be fascinated with bugs! I ‘ll have to check this book out. thanks for sharing!


    1. Catherine avatar

      There are bugs galore in Ella’s story! Thank you for visiting Story Snug 🙂


  13. Colette avatar

    What a cute twist on a traditional tale.


    1. Catherine avatar

      Just when you think that there are no other ways to tell a familiar story you find another really original version! Thank you for visiting Story Snug 🙂


  14. Tonja Drecker avatar

    Sounds like a great book. I could see my daughter loving it.


    1. Catherine avatar

      Thank you for visiting Story Snug 🙂 Ella is a fun read, I’m so pleased that she got her happy ending.


  15. Victoria Simcox avatar

    This seems like a wonderful children’s book! The cover is so cute! 🙂


    1. Catherine avatar

      There is lots of glitter on the cover which appeals to my daughter. Thank you for visiting Story Snug 🙂


  16. Barbara Mojica avatar

    Sounds like a creative twist that would appeal to young children in particular. Have to check it out!


    1. Catherine avatar

      It is a fun and original way to tell a familiar story, I’m not sure that my daughter has quite made the connection yet though!


  17. Kriss MacDonald avatar

    My kids love bugs too – they even have caught snails in the garden and given them names as pets – so this sounds like a great book for them.


    1. Catherine avatar

      My daughter has no fear of spiders (wish I could say the same!).

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