Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild was first published in 1936.

 Ballet Shoes cover

Matthew Brown is an elderly palaeontologist who spends most of his time travelling the world collecting fossils which he sends to his home in London which is run by his great-niece Sylvia and her old nanny. He manages to pick up three young girls over some time in differing circumstances, the last one being a small baby, and takes them home with him where Nana and Sylvia have the task of bringing them up.

It’s a difficult state of affairs for Sylvia as her uncle, known as GUM, leaves her some money and takes off on his travels again. As the girls (Pauline, Petrova and Posy) grow up the financial situation is very precarious as GUM stays away for years and doesn’t send any more money, for all they know he might be dead as they haven’t even had a letter from him for years.

The girls are all determined to help Sylvia and when they are enrolled in a stage and dancing school they are able to contribute to the family budget. Bizarrely it’s never mentioned that Sylvia might be able to get a job to help out!

I enjoyed this one, the character of Petrova was especially good as she was so different from the usual girls of that time, she was keen on cars and how they worked and was happiest when up to her ears in oil and car parts. Despite having little interest in the performing arts she was still keen to pull her weight and earn money for the family.

I think this is the fifth or sixth children’s book that I’ve read by Streatfeild and she does seem to have been slightly obsessed with the stage and performing. The only one of her books that I have unread in the house is Saplings, one of her books for adults, it’ll be interesting to see what that one is about. Have any of you read it?

My copy of Ballet Shoes is a modern Puffin book. Although these editions have nice clear print I must admit that I generally prefer the designs of the old Puffin books.

I Have Post

Anbolyn of Gudrun’s Tights has been participating in The Month of Letters challenge. Well, I’ve always loved getting post but nowadays unless it’s books which I’ve bought the post is deadly boring. So I asked Anbolyn to send me a postcard to cheer things up. I was thinking that I’ve never had anything from Arizona before but actually I don’t think I’ve ever had any post from America.

So I want to say a big thank you to Anbolyn for sending me not one but two lovely cards which I received this morning. I can’t decide which one is my favourite. The Green Inspired geometric card would make a fab design for a quilt. I doubt if I’d ever get around to sewing something so intricate though, but I can dream.

I love E. Nesbit’s book The Phoenix and the Carpet but my copy is an old one with a blue cover. This Puffin Books design captures the Edwardian atmosphere of the book beautifully. As you can see it cost 3/6 which in ‘new’ money is 17½ pence. I’ve done a wee bit of research and this version of the cover seems to have been published in 1959 – which just happens to have been the year I was born. How apt is that!

I haven’t shown you Anbolyn’s handwriting but it’s lovely, the sort of script which would look good embroidered, and she writes old-fashioned ‘S’s which I used to do and gave up for some reason.

So Anbolyn, a wee surprise (not me) will be winging its way to you within the next day or so. Stand by for my scrawl!