Ballet Shoes

Ballet Shoes

Paperback(Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679847595
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 11/23/1993
Series: The Shoe Books Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 39,114
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.61(d)
Lexile: 930L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Noel Streatfeild was born in Sussex in 1895 and was one of three sisters. Although she was considered the plain one she ended up leading the most glamorous and exciting life! After working in munitions factories and canteens for the armed forces when WWI broke out, Noel followed her dream of being on stage and went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she became a professional actress. She began writing children's books in 1931 and Ballet Shoes was published in 1936. She quickly became one of the most popular authors of her day. When she visited Puffin exhibitions, there were queues right out of the building and all the way down the Mall. She was one of the first winners of the Carnegie Medal and was awarded an OBE in 1983. Noel Streatfeild lived in London. She died in 1986.

Read an Excerpt

The Fossil sisters lived in the Cromwell Road. At that end of it which is farthest away from the Brompton Road, and yet sufficiently near it so one could be taken to look at the dolls' houses in the Victoria and Albert every wet day. If the weather were not too wet, one was expected to "save the penny and walk."

Saving the penny and walking was a great feature of their lives.

"Gum," Pauline, the oldest, would say, "must have been a very taxi person; he couldn't have ever thought about walking or he'd never have bought a house at the far end of the longest road in London."

"I expect," Petrova, the second, would argue, "he had a motorcar all his own, and he never hired anything."

G.U.M. was the quick way of saying Great-Uncle Matthew. He was a legendary figure to the children, as he had gone on a voyage, and not come back, before any of them were old enough to remember him clearly. He had, however, been of the utmost importance in their lives.

"He's been," Pauline once said, "like the stork in the fairy tale. He very nearly did bring us in his beak." Storks in the Fossil children's nursery were always called Gums after that.

Gum had been a very important person. He had collected some of the finest fossils in the world, and though to many people fossils may not seem to be very interesting things to collect, there are others who find them as absorbing as sensible collections, such as stamps. Collecting fossils, he naturally needed somewhere to put them, and that is how he came to buy the house in the Cromwell Road. It had large rooms, and about six floors, including the basement, and on every floor, and in almost every room, he kept fossils. Naturally a house like that needed somebody to look after it, and he found just the right person. Gum had one nephew, who had died leaving a widow and a little girl. What was more suitable than to invite the widow and her child Sylvia, and Nana her nurse, to live in the house and take care of it for him? Ten years later the widowed niece died, but by then his great-niece Sylvia was sixteen, so she, helped by Nana, took her mother's place, and saw that the house and the fossils were all right.

Sometimes when the house got too full Nana would say:

"Now, Miss Sylvia dear, you must tell your uncle not another fossil until a few have gone out of the door."

Sylvia hated saying this, but she was far too much in awe of Nana to do anything else. Terrible upsets were the result. First Gum said no fossil would leave the house except over his dead body. Then, when he'd toned down a little and realized some had to go, in spite of his body being anything but dead, he would collect a few small, rather bad specimens and give them away. Then, after a day or two, during which he mooned round the house under Nana's stern eyes and Sylvia's rather sorry ones, a notice would suddenly appear in The Times, to say that Professor Matthew Brown had given another generous gift of fossils to a museum. That meant that men would come with packing-

cases and take some of the most important (which often meant the largest) fossils away. Nana would settle down with a sigh of contentment to cleaning those places where the fossils had stood, and Sylvia would comfort Gum by listening to his descriptions of where he was going to look for some more.

It was while looking for some more that the accident happened which put an end to Gum's fossil-hunting forever. He had climbed a mountain after a particular specimen, and he slipped and fell hundreds of feet, and crushed his leg so badly that he had to have it taken off.

You would have thought that a man who lived for nothing but fossils would have felt that there was nothing left to do when he couldn't go and look for them anymore, but Gum wasn't that sort of man.

"I have traveled a lot on land, my dear," he said to Sylvia, "but very little by sea. Now I shall really see the world. And maybe I'll be finding something interesting to bring back."

"There's no need to do that, sir," Nana broke in firmly. "The house is full enough as it is. We don't want a lot of carved elephants and that about the place."

"Carved elephants!" Gum gave Nana a scornful look. "The world is full of entrancements, woman, any of which I might bring home, and you talk to me of carved elephants!"

But Nana held her ground.

"All right, sir; I'm sure I'm pleased you should see these entrancements, as you call them, but you let them bide. We want nothing more in this house."

The entrancement that Gum actually brought home was Pauline.

The ship on which he was traveling struck an iceberg, and all the passengers had to take to the boats. In the night one of the boats filled with water and the passengers were thrown into the sea. Gum's boat went to the rescue, but by the time it got there everybody was drowned except a baby who was lying on a lifebelt, cooing happily. Gum collected the baby and wrapped her in his coat, and when they were at last rescued by a liner and taken to England, tried to find out to whom she belonged. That was the trouble. Nobody knew for sure whose baby she was; there had been other babies on board, and three were missing. She must go to an orphanage for female orphans, said everybody; but Gum said "No" to that. Things he found went to the Cromwell Road. He had meant to bring Sylvia back a present. Now, what could be better than this? He fussed and fumed while the adoption papers were made out, then he tucked the baby into the crook of his left arm, took his shabby old holdall in his right, and limping because of his game leg, walked to the railway station, and went home to London and the Cromwell Road.

Gum, to whom time meant very little indeed, was never able to remember that other people might not be expecting him when he turned up without a word of warning after being away for months. This time he opened his front door, put down his holdall, and looked round for a suitable place to put the baby. Seeing nowhere but the hall table or the umbrella stand, he called rather angrily for Sylvia.

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Ballet Shoes 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Annabell22 More than 1 year ago
This is a go to book easy classic, I buy it for all the new baby girls in my family. Even I keep a copy for myself as a fun read. Great Book!
7Emphatic More than 1 year ago
I don't know if anyone sacrafices for the people they love like these girls sacrafice for eachother.You are certainly likely to feel you've been lazy after reading the story of these hard working passion filled characters. My only disappointment with the book is a particular characters bad luck in acting roles because of her looks. Though this is likely how the acting world works it is sad to see in a kids book someone being rejected because of how pretty they are.
andsobo More than 1 year ago
My mother bought this story for me as a child when I wanted nothing more than to dance for a living. So well-written, I read and re-read this and my other favorite Noel Streatfeild story, "Dancing Shoes" long after I had outgrown them. The books provided me wonderful examples of writing and grammar, which I then applied to my studies. The stories themselves are based on real places in London and also provide a great perspective on British life which came in remarkably handy more than thirty years later in business. Please share them with your child. You will be most pleased that you did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has a great storyline and a lot of substance, which is hard to find in a book these days. It is about 3 girls with dreams and ambitions and they learn to choose the paths that they will take in their lives. If you read this book, it might change your life. It really changed mine! Noel Streatfield has a wonderful way with words and obviously studied her topics very well. It is very fluent reading that is easy for everyone to enjoy.I am a dancer in training and this really influenced me! It is my very favorite book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about 3 girls who's guardian became poor when they were little so it was suggested for them to go to The Academy of Stage and Dance Training. They all find their talents quickly. Pauline is a great actress,Posy is a born dancer, and Petrova finds out she would rather pilot a plane or drive a motorcar rather than do a pierouette. I've read this book about 30 times, but I love it, and I reccomend this book for nine years olds or older. Also, I've heard Tennis Shoes is great for boys.
mahallett on LibraryThing 7 months ago
ok. radio drama is hard because you have to get used to all the voices.200
lizzybeans11 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I've had this book since elementary school as I was a ballet dancer and loved everything about it. However, as a child I found this book a little difficult to read on my own. I didn't understand a lot of the underlying societal issues and I was constantly worried for the orphans. As an adult I can better appreciate the entire story and can separate the tension in the book from my emotions.
katiemullen on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Ballet Shoes was probably my favorite book as a child. I used to read it whenever I was bored or needed comforting. Now, I probably can't review it entirely objectively, but it is a wonderfully sweet story of the love among three adopted sisters and their guardian. The girls perform in ballets and plays to earn money for their struggling family, and I have always found the portrayal of the children's lives in the theatre to be fascinating.
calmclam on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Somewhat dated but a brilliant read. Strong female characters (and in fact the cast is predominately female), easily relatable girls, an engaging plot, and a strongly coded lesbian couple. One of my favorite children's books.
Stewartry on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This was a nostalgic read along with an L.M. Montgomery-focused group on Goodreads; I think I wound up receiving it and finishing it too late to be useful in the discussion, but I was tickled to read it anyway. I have fond memories of Noel Streatfeild, although I don't recall reading this one. It was always fascinating to read about children participating in adult worlds; stupid as we all are when we're kids, being grown-up sounds so cool. Little do we know. In Ballet Shoes the focus is on three little girls who have each been orphaned and separately adopted by a peripatetic anthropologist (say that five times fast) ¿ who has dropped each of them off into the care of his sister and his housemaid in their massive museum-like home and taken off on a new voyage. The voyage he is on as the book begins has lasted quite a bit longer than his dependants expected, and straits are growing dire. Boarders are taken in, which helps matters, and as the girls approach the age at which they can legally earn money on the stage, they enter a school where they will learn to dance and to act.In many ways books like this and the Arthur Ransome children-messing-about-in-boats books were and are as alien to me and my childhood as the most outré SciFi. Self-reliant children setting out and having adventures ¿ unheard of. Here, though, the children have an awareness of the family's financial situation that is, I think, rare; the aunts hide the worst of it from them, but they do know that if their almost criminally negligent Gum doesn't manage to find his way back, and soonest, there will be some extremely uncomfortable consequences. Things have changed even since this book was written, to the point that in most of the first world today having to send three small children out to work ¿ even at something as theoretically fun as theatre and dance ¿ is extreme. But I think as a child it was captivating to read about it. Here are kids not too unlike me who if they had to could fend for themselves. They're doing something so very much cooler than going to bright boring elementary school every day, and earning money to help their family. Reading a book like this as an adult is, as mentioned, an exercise in nostalgia ¿ not a reminiscence about or wistfulness for an unjaded time when I had adventures like the children in the book, but when I saw only the excitement of the adventures and none of the dangers or tedium.
mmillet on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Sweet story about three orphans who are adopted and sent to a performing arts school to help raise money for their family. The three Fossils -as they are called- Pauline, Petrova and Posy are sweet, resourceful girls with dreams and goals. This heartwarming story about family, sacrifice and love is wonderful. The new movie is also enjoyable as well even though they had to Americanize it with a love story...
stuzle on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Why did I love this book so much as a child? I have no interest in ballet dancing, and that is mostly what it's about. I think the genius of Streatfeild is in the details. She REALLY explains exactly what taking ballet classes consists of---down to where you change into your clothes, what the teachers and other students are like, etc. The sisters all have very distinct personalities, and I love what to me seemed like an exotic setting in England. I went on to read everything by this author I could get my hands on!
readingrat on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A wonderful story told with a touch of quirky humor. Young ballet dancers and stage actors will find much that feels familiar here, but the themes of love, family, caring, and sacrifice combine to create a story that will still appeal to those who have never set foot on a stage before.
hannahj26 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This is possibly my most loved book as a child. I read this book so many times that it fell apart and I had to buy another. I even enjoy it as an adult.
miriamparker on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Pretty orphans?! That's what I loved when I was little. Why do children want to be orphans?
CrochetDancer on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I was horribly disappointed in this book. First, personally I've been on a hunt for a good dance/ballet related book (adult or children's) and yet again I fail. Second, this is a classic children's story I've heard about for years and it just didn't live up to the hype or my expectations. The story was really pretty boring. No idea how a child would get through it. Not a great deal happens, and the story spent way too much time and detail discussing money. I didn't need to know how much money the children earned and where it all went down to the pence. I didn't really connect with any character. I didn't like how Posy was a stereotypical ballerina. I really didn't like the ending. It was very deus ex machina; and all their problems were solved. Finally, my biggest complaint of the book is where is the part about ballet and ballet shoes?! The book is called "Ballet Shoes" and the talk of ballet or ballet shoes covers about a tenth of the book, and that's being generous. Why would you title a book Ballet Shoes and it not be the focus of the story. I really have no desire to read the other two books in the series, though I'm curious to read theater shoes just to see if it is about ballet since ballet shoes was all about acting.
carterchristian1 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A favorite from childhood. Strong sibling relationships explored in an unusual time in history
lycomayflower on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I didn't know about the "Shoe Books" when I was a kid; the first I ever heard of them was when Kathleen Kelley overheard a customer asking a dim-witted children's section employee of Fox Books for one in You've Got Mail and then gave a thirty-second blurb on them that proves the movie's point about independently-owned shops beautifully ("I'd start with Ballet Shoes--it's my favorite. Though skating shoes is also completely wonderful. But it's out of print.") When I stumbled across a BBC production of Ballet Shoes recently, I decided I was clearly meant to read the book. It's delightful, and the details of 1930s London life and stage work are fascinating. Recommended.
conuly on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This was one of my favorite books as a child. And I'm not the only one! Apparently, when it first came out, the author couldn't get spare copies because the store she went to had a. put the books in their own special section and b. was restricting purchases to one per customer.That's just remarkable.The characters are - although a little overly nice (it isn't until later books (Dancing Shoes, Theater Shoes) that we start seeing a few spoiled rotten children) - mostly realistic. They do argue, they do occasionally misbehave, that sort of thing. As a child, I found the details of their education and stage training to be absolutely fascinating, and I read this book until I had to go buy another copy. And as an adult, I appreciate that even the kid that doesn't fit in, Petrova, who is interested in cars and planes and utterly bored by all her theater lessons, is not left out or ignored. She's less talented than the others (artistically, anyway), but she's still valued.However, it can be difficult for a younger child to get into this book today. The book spans several years, and it's full of old-fashioned dialog and old British money. We also spend a lot of time paying attention to what the grown-ups are saying. I would suggest that if your kid is not yet in her double digits that you hold off before buying a copy.
beatrice_otter on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This was one of my favorite books as a child; I still enjoy reading it as an adult. It's a perfect book for girls: it's about three orphaned girls growing up in an adoptive family in London without much money, who work hard, help the family, and fulfill their dreams in a loving, supportive environment. The eldest becomes a movie actress, the middle becomes a mechanic/aviator, and the youngest a ballerina--but the joy of the story is in how they get there. Highly recommended--and don't forget to check out the 2007 movie version, as well.
ThorneStaff on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A charming tale of three girls adopted by an eccentric explorer who mostly collected fossils, but occasionally brought home an orphan instead. When he goes missing, the girls and their guardian must think of ways to make money, and so begins the tale of three different girls finding their passion at a school of stage and dance. The characters are realistic and their adventures captivating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the book, it was okay. Sort of funny, but I didn't quite like how it was written. There are a lot better written books to enjoy! This book has a lesson one of the main characters learn: Don't get a swelled head. That's pretty much it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago