Review: Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (1945)

Theater Shoes Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Publication: Yearling (1994), Paperback, 272 pages / ISBN 0679854347
Genre: Fiction, Children’s
Rating: 5/5
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Challenges: Read Your Own Books 2009 (#12)
First sentence: It is very difficult to look as if you minded the death of a grandfather who, though you may have spent your holidays in his house, certainly seldom remembered that you did.

Whenever I feel sick or blue, I pick up a Noel Streatfeild book. Normally I start with Ballet Shoes, then move on to something else if needed. Last week I had horrible allergies and no meds (rectified that this week), so I decided to read Theater Shoes. It worked like a charm!

Summary from Amazon:

Three orphans are forced to enter a theater school by their grandmother, a famous actress. Unable to pay the tuition, they are given scholarships from the now-grown orphans from Ballet Shoes. Will they be able to live up to their patrons’ legacies? The children are ready to run away–until they discover their hidden talents.

Normally books set in WWII make me depressed, but for some reason if the book stars children I can get around that. Even if depressing things happen, like in Stepping on the Cracks, I’m not as affected as I would be if the book had adult (or even an older teen) narrator. Not that Theater Shoes is very depressing, but sometimes it can be awful thinking of rations and fathers going missing and so on. Anyway.

I really liked the characters in this book; even the two younger ones, who, if they were real, would probably annoy me if I had to be around them for very long. And of course, I love being able to revisit the characters who last appeared in Ballet Shoes. Some of them are there in person, such as Madame, but Pauline, Petra and Posy only make cameos (though very nice ones). I also liked seeing what happened to them after Ballet Shoes ended.

The plot is standard Streatfeild: something awful happens to the parents (or guardian) of children, those children go someplace or do something that leads them to discover something new about themselves, the parents get fixed, and then everything’s peachy. It’s cozy and lovely and though there’s dire situations– mostly regarding money– it has a happy ending and it’s all really quite sweet. I liked, too, watching the kids find their new interests and future career paths. It’s…comforting, somehow, to know that they have a plan and that they’re working toward accomplishing it. (Even if they are fictional people with fictional plans. That sounds like it should be a song.)

For those that haven’t read Streatfeild before, or who haven’t read Ballet Shoes, you might be a little confused especially regarding the 3 P’s, but I think you could muddle through. Though you do get more fun out of it if you read Ballet Shoes first, I think.

If you already like Streatfeild, then by all means read Theater Shoes! It’s one of the better ones, and it’s sure to brighten your day. Here’s hoping more of Ms. Streatfeild’s books come back into print!

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