Such a well done movie and it made me wonder, do children read Noel Streatfeild's books anymore?
Lookin back, I would like to think I was one of those bright, precocious youngsters who read before she could walk. Alas, this was not the case. I recall, quite vividly, being sorted into the "buzzards" reading group in first grade, not the "blue birds." Things improved when they discovered I needed glasses but I was not an avid reader until fourth grade.
My problem was, I had no idea what to read. I can remember staring at the shelf, utterly clueless, so she handed me Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild.
I loved that book. In the months that followed, I acquired many more of the "shoe stories." She would make it a point to greet me and show m new books that she thought I would enjoy. I always followed her suggestions.
I read White Boots aka Skating Shoes which I loved because I was learning to skate. I think White Boots may have been my favorite book. Two girls, Lalla and Harriet, one rich, one poor, share training time at an ice rink. Lalla is being groomed for skating stardom, Harriet is there to strengthen her leg muscles after an illness.
The Painted Garden, aka Movie Shoes was fun because of the appearance of Pauline Fossil from Ballet Shoes, who has become a Hollywood movie star in the story. An unpleasant and difficult middle child named Jane, lands the lead in the film version of Secret Garden while her family is staying in California.
In Here Comes the Circus aka Circus Shoes, brother and sister, Peter and Santa, join their Uncle Gus, who works for a circus. They learn tumbling and appear in the circus performances.
Streatfeild's other books never caught my imagination the way these four did. Maybe my time of unconscious delight had already passed when I encountered them.
In these stories the characters are from loving families of modest means and usually under some kind of emotional or financial distress. The characters are thrust on stage or onto the ice or into the circus ring where they learn to excel or at least withstand the experience in some way. All the books celebrate the value of hard work and hours of practice.
Today, Eva Ibbotson's novels evoke a similar happy reading hum in me. The shoe books, with their poor but genteel families must seem pretty tame stuff to readers today who love the quick cut action of Percy Jackson or the sparkle of the Twilight books. I'm trying to recall if anyone I know has read them recently.
Those two years abroad made me a life long reader (and saddled me with a life long spelling disability as I easily drop in the British spellings for"practising," "flavour," and "colour" when I write.)
I also think of that librarian, whose name I do not recall, when I walk the shelves with kids and pull books off the shelves and ask, "how about this one?