I’m back in the world of children’s books for this week’s BotW and Noel Streatfeild’s Curtain Up or Theatre Shoes as it’s called in the US and some newer editions here. I was sure that I had already read this – but it turns out, I hadn’t and it had been sitting on my children’s book shelf unread. A travesty.
So, Curtain Up tells the story of the Forbes children – Sorrel, Mark and Holly. Their mother is dead, their father is missing in the Second World War. They had been living with their grandfather, but when he dies, they’re sent to live with their other grandmother – part of their mother’s family who they’ve never met. When they arrived in London, they discover that she is an actress and that she intends for them to follow in her (and their mother’s) footsteps and make a career on the stage. They’re not all happy about this – and life with their grandma is very different from what they’re used to and the book follows them as they get used to their new life – and discover some new interests along the way.
If you read any Noel Streatfeild as a child (or an adult) it will probably have been Ballet Shoes,the story of the three Fossil sisters – Pauline, Petrova and Posy – and you’ll re-encounter these three (albeit at a distance) here, along with their theatre school. It’s a fun and sweet story which features rationing and wartime problems as well as the workings of the world of child actors. I love this sort of story – although today’s children may find bits of it strange – unless they’ve done the Home Front at school already!
I think my favourite Streatfeild may still be White Boots (Skating Shoes) but that’ may be because there are a lot of books about dancers and the theatre and not many at all about figure skating (I wish I could have been a figure skater, but even if my mother had sent me for lessons my flexibility, athleticism, build and height would’ve ruled me out pronto) but all the “Shoe” books I’ve read are great stories, well told that children can wish they were a part of, and adults can enjoy as well.
You should be able to get a copy of Curtain Up – probably badged as Theatre Shoes from any book shop with a good children’s department, Amazon have copies under both names – new copies of Theatre Shoes, a Kindle edition and second hand copies as Curtain Up. I suspect the bigger second hand book shops would be able to help too. Happy reading!