October 8, 2012

31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books: Ballet Shoes


Everyone I've mentioned Ballet Shoes to has referenced You've Got Mail. (Ballet Shoes is the book that Meg Ryan's character describes to the Fox Books employee). It makes me wonder how much sales of Ballet Shoes skyrocketed after the movie came out!

I'd always meant to read it - partly because of that reference, but I'd somehow never gotten around to it. I finally checked it out from the library a few weeks ago, and I absolutely adored it.

The story opens with the three "Fossil" sisters -- all orphans taken in by Great-Uncle Matthew (hereafter known as Gum). Gum collected fossils till he lost a leg, and then somehow he started collecting babies instead. First Pauline, then Petrova, then Posy. Gum leaves the three babies and a chunk of money with his niece Sylvia and her nurse, Nana, telling them that he'll be back in 5 years. But unfortunately, Gum doesn't come back, and Sylvia and Nana are running out of money to raise Pauline, Petrova, and Posy. So they start taking in boarders, and then enroll the girls in a dancing academy, where they get dancing, singing, and acting lessons. At age 12 children are allowed to start acting in the theater and earning money, and this way the girls can contribute to their own upkeep.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Pauline is a decent dancer - but she prefers their acting classes. Petrova hates it all - she'd rather be an airplane mechanic, but she keeps dancing to help pay the bills. And Posy bids fair to be the best dancer the academy has ever seen - she is graced with an amazing natural ability.

The story of the three Fossil sisters, and their determination, grace, and talent is beautiful. They're real girls - Pauline is stubborn, Petrova is serious, and Posy is self-centered, but they're all also sweet, and dedicated to each other, Sylvia, and Nana.

Ballet Shoes beautifully captures a bygone era of English life (when there were still shillings!) and big dreams sometimes came true for dancing little girls.

Have you read Ballet Shoes?

Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommended age: 6 - 10

This post is day eight of my 31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.