Monday, April 14, 2008


I'm a little bit obsessed with rereading Noel Streatfeild's books right now.

I had all the Shoes books when I was young, but along the way I thought I was "too old" and let them go. (Although I have an email out to my mom to see if by some strange twist of fate she still has them, but it's doubtful.)

I picked up Ballet Shoes and Dancing Shoes at a library sale, and the pile got down to Ballet Shoes, and reading it again was wonderful! It's the story of three orphan sisters who live in London and train to work on the stage. One is an actress, one is a dancer, and one is more interested in airplanes, but participates in the classes as well. The descriptions of theater life in England are fascinating, like having to wait until you can get a stage license at age 12. Maybe I'm in love with the world of it more than anything -- books that transport me to an unfamiliar world tend to be the ones I love the best.

My cat also picked up a new nickname from the book -- "Posy Pretty Toes." The two older sisters mock the younger when she's showing off her ballet-perfect feet. And my cat has little white toes -- not socks, not mittens, just the toes. It's adorable when she bats at things.

Dancing Shoes was written about twenty years after Ballet Shoes, but much of the world is the same, as it follows two sisters who enter the world of dance. I thought it had characterization of the girls that was a lot less simplistic than Ballet Shoes. Also, where Ballet Shoes is more a collection of episodes, Dancing Shoes has more of a throughline to the plot, involving the girls' competition with their spoiled cousin. This sort of storyline was one that played out over and over again in my made-up stories of childhood: there was always a girl (or sisters) unfairly tormented by another girl who was spoiled and bratty. I think the simplicity of it made it an easy one to recreate in different settings.

This weekend I went on a local quest to see if I could find any other Streatfeild books, which are largely out of print. I found two at the library, and Theater Shoes (along with Ballet Shoes and Dancing Shoes) is in print. Most of the good used bookstores were closed because I was shopping on Sunday, and while I found treasures like All of a Kind Family and From the Mixed Up Files... at the thrift stores, there was no Streatfeild to be had.

I think next weekend I might expand my radius and scout some new bookstores. :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved these books, but I only read the three.
Have you tried other E.L. Konigsburg? She is amazing.