Tuesday, December 13

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Three girls, all orphaned under different circumstances, are adopted by Great Uncle Mathew - "GUM" - who loves to collect fossils. One day, he leaves the children in the care of his great-niece, Sylvia and the nurse, Nana and doesn't return.

Pauline, Petrova and Posy all grow up to be very different little ladies. Pauline is beautiful and loves to act. Petrova likes motor cars and aeroplanes. Posy came to Sylvia with a pair of ballet shoes and was born to dance. All girls vow to make something of themselves so that their unique name of Fossil can make it into the history books as it is their very own.

With GUM gone, there isn't a lot of money to keep all the girls in school and the house functioning. Soon, they are taking in borders and Pauline, Petrova and Posy are training at a theatre school for children, so that when they are old enough they can earn an income. With all the woes of money and auditions, can they find their true callings and fulfill their vow?

I first learned of this book because of the movie 'You've Got Mail' which is one of my favourites. The protagonist mentions the "Shoe Books" by Noel Streatfeild and that 'Ballet Shoes' is her favourite, although she mentions at least three others.

I listened to the audio book, narrated by Elizabeth Sastre and adored it. Her narrative made the story all the more compelling since the dramatics of it all came to life and it was so easy to get wrapped up in. The only trouble I found with the audio book was that sometimes I could hear incoherent noises in the background, like someone was speaking or their was an echo. I didn't find it too bothersome, though, since the story was so captivating.

I found that I could relate to all the girls in different ways. I loved how they were so passionate about their own ambitions, particularly Posey, even though she is the youngest. She was so confident and driven, I couldn't help but be inspired by her. Pauline was at home on the stage and although I'm not the greatest at acting, I've always loved drama and the theatre. Petrova was easy to relate to because she was the one who felt the most awkward, alienated and stressed and I think everyone can identify with that.

'Ballet Shoes' was published in the 1930s and I found the time period quite interesting to learn about. The subject of money management was very interesting because Pauline and then Petrova become able to work in the theatre when they are twelve years old and play a huge part of helping to provide for their family. It wasn't so much the fact that they needed to that was moving but more-so that they wanted to help in whatever way they could.

The last line of the books really gives you something to ponder and I find myself still thinking about it but I think I know the answer. My answer, anyhow. What might yours be, I wonder?

I would be quick to recommend this book, especially the audio book narrated by Elizabeth Sastre as I think she is excellent. If you are a fan of dancing but mostly theatre, then this is a book for you.

There are two more Shoe Books narrated by Elizabeth Sastre that I could find, Theater Shoes and Dancing Shoes, so I might look into buying those. I've also heard that the Fossil sisters are mentioned in some of the other Shoe Books, so that will be very interesting.

A while back I saw the film adaptation of 'Ballet Shoes' with Emma Watson and Yasmin Paige. I recently bought it on DVD and look forward to watching it again soon. If you enjoy the novel, then I suggest looking into the film as well, since it does a great job of capturing the spirit of the book.


In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Yearling and is used solely as an aide to the review.

1 comment:

Discoverylover said...

I'll have to check these out, I was a huge fan of Noel Streatfeild (and this book especially) as a kid/teen!