A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ballet Shoes is the story of three orphan sisters who go to a performing arts schools and find three different callings: ballet, theater, and automobile repair! great for kids who dream of life onstage, but others may be bored by the detail about how kids train for those disciplines.
What's the story?
When adventurer Great-Uncle Matthew must stop collecting fossils, he decides to collect orphans instead, but after he disappears on an expedition, his niece, Sylvia, is left a dwindling bank account and two sisters to raise. The family's luck begins to change when Sylvia takes in boarders to help pay the bills. Two, including a dance instructor, offer to educate the children for free; she arranges for free tuition to a performing-arts school.
The academy's regal director, Madame Fidolia, soon recognizes Posy's ballet talents and takes her under her wing. Pauline shines in drama class, and Petrova squeaks by while privately pursuing her passion for fixing automobiles. The story follows the three Fossil sisters as they attend rehearsals, audition for roles, and shine in performances. By the novel's end, Pauline, Posy, and Petrova are ready for their chosen careers.
Is it any good?
This will become a favorite for children who dream of a life on the stage. To kids who love dancing or acting, the Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training will seem a magical place, and every detail -- from barre practice to auditions to backstage antics -- will be fascinating. Children who don't fantasize about performing, however, will probably be mystified by the level of detail about every aspect of the girls' training. The inclusion of almost 10 pages of a play script, for example, won't make sense to many readers; but those who would love to be Pauline probably will be acting out the scenes.
Following the girls from birth into their teens, the story often glides through a whole year in a single page. Some readers might need help adjusting to a novel in which career development, rather than specific school or family issues, is the focus. Diane Goode's lighthearted drawings don't match the more serious tone of the text.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about pursuing passions. What challenges do the girls face as they follow their interests? How do they deal with them?
Do you share any of the sisters' interests? What do you like about their choices? What do you disagree with?
Do you have a dream you're pursuing?