Originally published in both ENG and RO on my blog:
I must admit that what first got me interested in this book was seeing the movie with Emma Watson as Pauline in 2007. However, six years have passed until I actually decided: I want to read this book. Another important factor in my decision to read it was also the Pre-1960′s Classic Children’s Books Reading Challenge hosted by Turning the Pages I am participating in this year. But how and why I read this book is not as important as how great it turned out to be!
From the first sentence, I felt transported to the time I was ten and reading books like “The Secret Garden” or “Little Women”. There is a certain feel these old children’s books have and nostalgia accompanied me until the last page. It seems that my fear of not liking children’s books at my age was unfounded.
"If other girls had to be one of us, which would they choose?"
Pauline was by far my favourite character, perhaps because she was the oldest of the three children, and thus more mature, a leader if I can call her like that. Rational, ambitious, learning from her past mistakes, unaware of her beauty and ready to sacrifice her savings to help paying the bills, the much needed clothes and so on…
However, the mystery of this novel is Posy. The book mostly follows Pauline’s evolution, and as Petrova is usually in the same theatrical pieces as Pauline is, we don’t get to “see” much of Posy. Her training with Madame Fidolia is kept under secret too, so we can only guess what kind of ballet moves she is taught.
The book is mostly about how these three girls are growing up, balancing studying, training for their careers and actually working as performers on stage. It is, consequently, slow-paced and descriptive, however it doesn’t lack in humorous moments. For instance, when Gum (Great Uncle Matthew) brings the orphan Pauline to her 16 year-old niece, Sylvia, who is reluctant in taking her, he says:
"I thought all women like children!"
Posy is also a “little monster” who mocks everyone’s behaviour by imitating them in a hilarious way, a “talent” of her most visibile in the second half of the book.
I recommend “Ballet Shoes” to children of all ages, and to adults who want to remember their childhood.