Ballet Shoes for Anna - Noel Streatfeild`s
Ballet Shoes for Anna is one of Noel Streatfeild`s well known books. This book was written in 1972 based on the great earthquake in Turkey. The story centers around three young children, Francesco, Augustus and Anna as they try to find their bearings after the shock of the earthquake. In one earth shattering moment, they find that their caravan, their parents and Babka and Jardek (their grandparents) have disappeared under the earthquake.
With the timely help of Sir William Hoogle, they are able to find themselves a new home, though personally, they feel that they are better off without it. This new home belongs to their father`s brother, Uncle Cecil and Aunt Mabel. What with their plastic flowers in the garden and the blank rooms and walls, the three kids have a hard time adjusting to their new environment. But their chief concern is Anna`s dancing lessons. For it is absolutely necessary that Anna has to dance; it is all that matters to the three. Their grandfather, Jardek, had been a renowned dance teacher the world over, a fact unknown to the children until much later. He had always said, that no matter what happens, Anna has to dance.
The book tells of the numerous problems the children have to face when suddenly bought from Turkey to England. Their pompous and bristly Uncle doesn`t help one bit, while their `scared-to-death-of-everything` timid Aunt is not of much use to them either. Their atrocious English does seem to help and any money they need to provide for Anna`s dancing lessons, they have to salvage on their own. Still, they manage, and it is this nothing-is-impossible attitude of theirs that is the most endearing.
Streatfeild`s books have very realistic characters in all of them and this is no exception. Francesco, Gussie and Anna are characters other children find easy to relate to. Francesco, with his serious and responsible manner, Gussie with his high-spiritedness and Anna, the quietly rebellious and resolute child, who faces every problem like it doesn`t exist.
This book keeps you interested till the very last page, with its subdued humor and easy reading. The children, with their intense determination to succeed against whatever odds, are touching as well as exasperating at times.
Noel streatfeild has written other books too, mostly all related to ballet. "White Boots", "Far To Go", "The Painted Garden" and "A Vicarage Family" are some of her other works.
"I wish to talk to you three. Come into the lounge."
Even Gussie quailed. Clearly, the Uncle had found out they had sold the suitcases and what he would do was past imagining. To add to Gussie`s troubles the food that night seemed to them all particularly revolting. A reddish sort of meat with yellow fat served with balls made of what the children thought was a form of a blanket. There was also cabbage. Gussie, after a few mouthfuls, had leant towards Mabel.
"Always I am eating," he whispered to Mabel, "what I do not like, but this is impossible."
Mabel, gasping and puffing, had whispered back:
"It`s boiled silverside and dumplings dear. It is a great favourite of your uncle`s."
Gussie, who believed he would be poisoned if he ate what was on his plate, turned thankfully to his uncle and his plate towards him.
"You like it. You have it. For me, if it is possible, I would like bread and butter and olives."
From the way the uncle and aunt stared at Gussie he might have asked him for some extravagant dainty instead of the simplest food of which he knew.
At last, after a terrible pause, Uncle Cecil said in a voice like the inside of a refrigerator.
"Take away his plate, Mabel. Augustus will eat nothing tonight."
So it was with their hearts in their mouths that the three children followed Uncle Cecil into the lounge and sat down facing him on the sofa. Anna, scared though she was, had to smile when she felt the sofa.
"At what are you smiling, Anna?" her uncle demanded.
Anna stopped smiling.
"It is this so beautiful sofa," she whispered. "I do think I have sat on velvet before."
The Uncle did not seem interested.