Book Mini-Review: Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
“There is no doubt a new dress is a help under all circumstances.”
I’ve been meaning to read Ballet Shoes forever, ever since Kathleen Kelly, my patron saint, mentioned the Shoe books in You’ve Got Mail. I started reading it earlier this year when I was in my reading slump, thinking it would help break out of my slump, but I ended up putting aside for a while, and finally picked it back up last week. It’s a quick read, and even though it’s set in the 1930s in London, I still really enjoyed it. Like Kathleen Kelly said, Noel Streatfeild was a talented children’s writer, and the Shoe books are classics. Ballet Shoes is the first in the series, and I look forward to reading more in the series as my daughter gets older.
Ballet Shoes follows Pauline, Petrova, and Posy, all three orphaned girls who are raised by Nana and Sylvia. The house they live in was left to Sylvia by her uncle “Gum” as he’s travelling around the world. At the beginning of the book, it seems clear that Gum has not left them with a lot of money, so they begin to take in boarders. The boarders all become like family to the Fossil girls, and one of the boarders, Theo, suggests they attend classes at the Children’s Academy of Dance & Stage Training. Posy, the youngest, immediately takes to dancing, while Pauline and Petrova are not as into it. Pauline soon discovers her love of acting on the stage, while Petrova would prefer to pilot an airplane. These three girls are all very different, but recognize their roles in their family. Pauline and Petrova, as the two older girls, realize they need to help pay for things around the house, so once they each turn 12, they begin to get paid for their performances with the Academy. Pauline especially does well, since she is a gifted stage actress. Petrova also makes some money, but as she is not as comfortable on stage, she only gets lesser parts. But that’s okay with her because what she really wants to do is work in the garage and learn to fly planes. Since Posy is the youngest, she can't earn money yet, but she is the most naturally talented dancer of the three, and will eventually be earning a lot of money as a ballerina.
I enjoyed this children’s book and look forward to reading this with my daughter once she’s old enough. This was an interesting look into Depression-era London before World War II, but yet even with the older language and setting, I still found myself enjoying it. If you’re looking for a classic children’s book, I definitely recommend Ballet Shoes. I give it 4 stars.
Let me know what you thought about Ballet Shoes or any of the other Shoe books!