Book Review,  Reviews

Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfeild

When Pauline, Petrova and Posy are still young, they decide to make their own name. Sisters through adoption and circumstance rather than birth, they chose Fossil. For Grant Unclue Matthew collected them as he did his fossils. A few years on and they decide to make their name known, especially as it can’t be declared that they had it from a grandfather who made it known ahead of them. For it was unique. As unique as they were. They make a vow on each of their birthdays that they will become known for something amazing. Little do they know that their talents really will allow them to make the fossil name known, as Pauline heads for the silver screen, Petrova to the aerodrome and Posy to the Ballet in Czechoslovakia with a great Ballet school.

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Ballet Shoes is a great children’s classic. It’s one that so many know the name of without ever having read. And its one that I’ve been meany to read for years. Now I’ve finally gotten round to it, I can understand why a lot of people love it.

It is quintessentially English, with orphans growing up with a guardian who is struggling and this man who adopted them who is never around. The struggling family have to find a way to survive and happen upon two academic teachers, a dance teacher and a couple who have spare cash lying around to buy a garage and loan money for necklaces, but can’t appear to own their own home. There’s a lot to be a non-believer of in this story. But I still couldn’t help but love it. Probably because of the happy ending that it obviously had to have.

I think the one thing that I enjoyed the most about Ballet Shoes was the fact the children were so clever and so understanding. They knew that times were hard and they had to pay their way, they were mature enough not to worry Slyvia by saying now to performing and they were happy to share their earnings, once they were earning, with each other. They were wise beyond their years and also, they were happy to allow each other to be happy too. Petrova went against the grain of a role of a girl from a young age. And Nana was the only one to ever really see an issue with that. Everyone else was happy with her being who she wanted to be, spending time at the garage and learning about cars and aeroplanes.

I didn’t know until I started writing this review that Noel Streatfeild was actually Mary… However, it came as no surprise. The writing of the female characters, and some who very much went against what you’d expect of a woman at the time. I loved that there was an inclusion of what I read as two queer women. However its never explicitly mentioned and it was just a thing that two female characters described themselves as a “we” and looked after one another so well… I may have been reading into this, but the internet seems to agree.

There was a lot I loved about this book and I will definitely try and get Spike to read it as she grows up. I want to try and give the other “shoes” books a go too if I can get hold of a copy!

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