The location, Fox Books. Children's literature section. A lovely blond woman, Kathleen Kelly,sits on a pint-sized chair. She is sad. A woman browsing nearby, stops a salesperson.
WOMAN SHOPPER: Excuse me, do you have the "Shoe" books?
SALESPERSON: The "Shoe" books? Umm...who is the author?
WOMAN SHOPPER: I don't know. My friend told me my daughter has to read the "Shoe" books, so here I am.
KATHLEEN: (turns around to face the woman and salesperson) Noel Streatfeild. Noel Streatfeild wrote Ballet Shoes and Skating Shoes and Theater Shoes and Movie Shoes....(she starts crying as she tells her). I'd start with Ballet Shoes, it's my favorite.
SALESPERSON: Streatfeild. How do you spell that?
Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild, is one of my favorite books of all time. The story of three sisters, Pauline, Petrova and Posy, each adopted under mysterious and heroic circumstances, their Great Uncle Matthew (also known as Gum) and their guardian, Sylvia.
I learned to read this book sitting on a kitchen chair in Cincinnati. I sat on a chair in the middle of kitchen and would read aloud to my mom or dad as they prepared meals. I can remember the exact moment I learned to read certain words. (Saliva, Dad?)
This book has been made into a film and we have the DVD from Netflix. While on the one hand, I am very excited to see this magical story come alive, I'm also hesitant to replace the memory built in my childhood's memory. What if it's all wrong? What if it's too different? I suppose when I go home for Christmas, I will re-read my falling apart hardcover version and build the story again. Maybe out loud in the middle of the kitchen, on the same chair I sat on when I was 8.
To watch or not to watch, that is the question.
(And Kathleen Kelly is right, all the "Shoe" books are completely wonderful. Every last one of them. But Ballet Shoes has always been my very favorite.)