After my recent painful experience while rereading one of the Harry Potter books, I was almost afraid to try reading anything longer than a magazine article. I picked up another children’s book, though, and crossed my fingers. I am relieved to report that some of my reading mojo has returned.
Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Sorry to say, the book that brought back my mojo will not be kept as a favorite. Narrated more than described, the story is dull, at least from the perspective of an adult who never had aspirations as a dancer. My mother forced dance classes upon me when I was very young. Perhaps that should have made me sympathetic toward the main character, Rachel, who hates dancing but is forced to work in a dancing troupe, but I just couldn’t care about her predicament or her concern that her sister Hilary would become the “wrong kind” of dancer.
See, Rachel wants Hilary to become a ballet dancer, because she believes that’s what their deceased mother would have wanted. Hilary just wants to dance for fun, and not even that very much. By the end of the book, she just thinks she’ll have a couple of babies and laze around for the rest of her life. Geez. What a downer way to end a book that’s supposed to be about a little girl’s fondest dream of becoming a dancer.
Other cast members include the uninvolved Uncle Tom, the mean Aunt Cora, the spoiled Dulcie, and the bland Pursey. I didn’t like any of the characters except perhaps Mrs. Storm, the sympathetic teacher, but she was as one-dimensional as the rest.
As this book is considered a classic (I can’t help but think back to the movie You’ve Got Mail and how dearly its main character loved Streatfeild’s books), I believe it likely that young girls will love this book. So I give it a B and recommend it for girls.