Ballet Shoes is a classic children’s book written by Noel Streatfeild which follows the fates of three adopted sisters as they struggle to help their guardian pay for their household through their performing in plays. The three girls are all brought to the Fossil household by Great Uncle Mathew, also called Gum, whilst he’s out collecting fossils on his travels, hence their surname. The girls are Pauline, the oldest, Petrova, the middle child, and Posy, the youngest. They are looked after by Gum’s great-niece, who they call Garnie, and their nanny, who they call Nana.
The plot really starts when, after five years since Gum’s last visit to the house, the money starts to run out. Garnie and Nana are forced to apply for boarders to help make ends meet, and more characters are added to our soup of a family. Firstly come Mr and Mrs Simpson. Mr Simpson is a mechanic and Petrova ends up spending all her spare time helping him fix cars at his shop. She is a complete tomboy and loves aeroplanes most of all mechanical machines. The second set of borders to arrive are Dr Jakes and Dr Smith, who are professors of English and Mathematics. They take over the children’s schooling as Garnie can no longer afford to send them to school. Lastly is Miss Theo Dane. This boarder helps the family by getting them a scholarship for the Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training.
Of the three sisters, Pauline is the best at acting and ends up playing parts in a number of plays which she gets paid for. This means she can help Garnie pay the rent on the house which is immensely helpful. Pauline struggles with her ego throughout the book, but by the end is very humble despite the huge opportunities she is offered. Petrova hates dancing and acting and would much rather spend time with the cars, however gets some small acting parts that also help pay the rent. Posy becomes the star dancer, taking private lessons in ballet with the head mistress! Indeed, it is the ballet shoes that Posy arrives at the Fossil house with that the book is named after!
The book ends in a huge parting of ways between the three sisters to new and exciting directions and all three sisters vowing that they would do everything they could to get their names in the history books like they had done from the very beginning. I don’t know about history books, but this novel is sure to be on the shelves of children around the globe for hundreds of years to come. It is such a sweet and endearing, joyful book it’s a wonder that anybody can put it down!