Edition: Hardcover, 242 pages
Published by: Orion Books
Genre: Classics, Children’s, Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, British Literature
Rating: 4 stars
Completed: 19th February 2016
Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil are sisters – with a difference. All three were adopted as babies by Great Uncle Matthew, an eccentric and rich explorer who then disappeared, leaving them in the care of his niece Sylvia. The girls grow up in comfort until their money begins to run out and nobody can find Great Uncle Matthew.Things look bleak until they hit on an inspired idea: Pauline, Petrova and Posy will take to the stage. But it’s not long before the Fossils learn that being a star isn’t as easy as they first thought…
Ballet Shoes follows three orphan Fossil sisters Pauline, Petrova and Posy who were adopted by eccentric explorer and enthusiast of fossils, Great Uncle Matthew (Gum for short). After Posy, Gum continued with his travels and left them enough money in the bank to last them for five years, however the money soon runs out and therefore the Fossil sisters took upon themselves to act on stage in order to earn a living to afford the bills of their house, as well as achieving their dreams.
All sisters are very talented in different ways. Pauline can act and recite; Petrova is the tomboy out of the three sisters, clever with mathematics and is interested in cars and engines; Posy was born to be a ballerina, since her mother left her ballet shoes. Boarders, Dr Smith and Dr Jakes said to Pauline how unique the name Fossil is and that it would look splendid in history books. Afterwards the Fossil sisters decide to make a vow on every birthday and Christmas to put their name in history books because it is uniquely theirs and no one can say it is because of their grandfather’s.
Whilst reading this, I could really sympathise with the girls’ hardship living in 1930’s London, as the main focus is on money. There was a lot of which they had to sacrifice and had to become independent at a young age. They should be able to go to school and not to have to worry about money but because of the circumstances, they’ve had to earn a living making them grow up to take responsibility. It was something I admired about this book.
My favourite is probably Pauline! She is the eldest, making her the mature sister. Yes, she was rather conceited when she got the part as Alice but afterwards she did learn her lesson, as life is about learning from your mistakes. I felt like she became selfless in many of the parts in the book. I felt sorry for Petrova because she dislikes being on stage and I can sympathise because I also hated being on stage in Drama lessons! But it was nice that Petrova could talk about her enthusiasm on cars and engines with boarder, Mr Simpson. Posy’s lessons with Madam Fidolia were like a secret because the book’s main focus has been on Pauline.
I saw the BBC film first in 2007 when it aired on TV and I did enjoy it. I actually only watched it because of Emma Watson (I’m a huge fan). Anyway I decided to re-watch it during Christmas last year and I loved it so much that I felt compelled to read the book! I was picturing the film throughout reading this, which made it easier to visualise. There were a few changes to the film, which I liked. Particularly, I like the interaction between Garnie and Mr Simpson, which you don’t have in the book. In the film, one of my favourite scenes was Pauline’s audition for Alice, which I thought was amazing.
Overall 4 stars out of 5! I absolutely adored this book and it has now become one of my favourites. I definitely want to revisit it in the future. The only negatives I have to say is that I spotted three typos and for a classic, I am surprised. On p.131, the word ‘leavc’ I assume it is meant to be spelt as ‘leave,’ p.159, the word ‘wast’ is obviously meant to be ‘waste,’ and on p.200, there is a speech mark in the wrong place that isn’t a quote.
Anyway aside from the typos, I highly recommend this book and the film to everyone! Especially if you want to get into reading children’s classics 🙂
4 out of 5 stars