While I was busy spending all of my monies at Book People in Austin, I naturally looked at every single book (and good god there were so many!) they had on display to choose the right ones for my girls, ages 9 and 7.
Gracie (9) was a bit easier: she’s into graphic novels right now, so I picked up her very first compendium of Calvin and Hobbes comics. Win! But Bee (7), my reluctant reader, was a little more difficult. She prefers picture books, easy readers, worlds she can easily conquer. I keep our shelves well-stocked with old favorites she can practically recite and I let her borrow what she wants from the library because I want to feed her confidence and encourage her to love reading. But I didn’t want to spend money on a book that she would quickly outgrow. I wanted to challenge her just a bit, but still choose a book she would love. After twenty agonizing minutes of wandering and browsing (and yes, agonizing), I saw it: Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes.
Bee is a little ballet-crazy right now. She took a few dance classes last summer – ballet, jazz, and…um…a third one? – and she’s been hoping and praying and wishing to go back ever since. If our schedule allowed, I’d find the money somewhere, but things haven’t worked out. And Bee reminds you every chance she gets, usually whilst pirouetting across the floor. I thought she’d love hearing about little girls who become dancing sensations. Everyone raves about Streadfeild’s Shoes series; even Kathleen Kelley helped a mama find her daughter just the right Shoes book. (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I don’t even want to hear it. Hmph.)
Needless to say, I bought the book, gave it to my daughter, and listened to her squeal over the cover. We’ve started reading it as our nightly read-along and…oh boy, you guys…I’m underwhelmed. I mean, we’re 50 pages into the story and no one’s even danced yet! They’ve only just met their dancing teacher! Good gravy – I know it’s the first book in the series and you want to get the plot settled and explain how these three sisters were orphaned and adopted and why they’re on their own, in a way, but can’t we PLEASE get the story started already?!
Bee is quite bored with the pacing. I’m enjoying the English dialogue and phrasing and sentence structure, but I could do with a quicker tempo myself. This isn’t quite how I envisioned the Shoe series. But, Kathleen Kelley and a million other readers said so, so I guess we’ll hang in there. For a bit, at least.