Having lost their parents in an earthquake, Anna and her siblings live with their prim uncle and feeble aunt. Anna lives only to dance - but her ...Show synopsisHaving lost their parents in an earthquake, Anna and her siblings live with their prim uncle and feeble aunt. Anna lives only to dance - but her uncle forbids her to have anything to do with ballet. How will she survive? For Anna, everything takes second place to her burning desire to dance. Even the earthquake that destroyed her Turkish home has not made her think differently, only now she's stuck in a prim suburban household with an uncle who "doesn't approve" of dancing. What can Anna do? Not only is there no one to give her lessons, but there's no money for them either, and, anyway, dancing's forbidden. Will she ever become the ballerina she longs to be?Hide synopsis
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I'm glad that this wasn't Noel Streatfeild's first book, her career would have never gotten a start and her other wonderful books never been published. The three children are vastly unappealing and the manner in which Noel portrays their Near Eastern backround is insulting and stereotypical.
Anna, the supposed protagonist, barely makes an impression; we see only an extremely selfish and one-dimensional little girl who is fixated on ballet lessons (which MUST be conducted by first-rate teachers, even though she is only eight years old). We never learn about her feelings, her activities in her classes or how she gets on with her peers. Indeed, this book is much more a story about her two brothers and the struggle they have to provide their nasty sister with money for her lessons.
Francesco, the oldest brother, and Wally his friend are the only children in the book who are even remotely likeable. Gussie, the middle child, is a stubborn little monster whose talent for getting into trouble, without a trace of guilt at the consequences, is annoying to say the least.
The ending of the story is rather abrupt, almost as if Ms. Streatfeild has become as tired of these wearisome characters as we have and wants to dispatch them in a hasty way. I would not bother to read this book again and forget about recommending it to children.
I've read a number of Streatfeild's books, and this is the one I've liked the least. The protagonist is a selfish little monster who doesn't care about anything but herself and getting her ballet lessons. And when her brothers manage, with great difficulty, to pay for her private lessons, she doesn't even seem grateful - she just wants more lessons from a better teacher. I felt sorry for the brothers who had to put up with such a sister. This doesn't seem like a model for young girls to read about. In her other books when Streatfeild has a child like this, she eventually learns a lesson at the end, but that doesn't happen here. "Ballet Shoes" is a much better book.
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