Talking Points… Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild What time period does the book take place? 1.

Which name did Pauline, Petrova and Posy take as their last name? Fossil. Great Uncle Matthew had adopted the three girls when Nana told him not to bring any more fossils back to the house. They were entered into their school using the name Brown, which was Great Uncle Matthew’s last name, but as he called them his little fossils, they thought Fossil was a more suitable name. 2. Who were the first boarders that came to live with Garnie and the girls? Mr. and Mrs. Simpson Mr. and Mrs. Simpson had returned from Kuala Lumpur and needed a place to live. Miss Dane came next and was a teacher at the ballet school run by Madame Fidolia. Doctor Jakes and Doctor Smith were retired teachers, who offered to teach the girls at home. 3. What was the real name of Great Uncle Matthew’s niece and guardian of the three girls? Sylvia Sylvia’s father had been Great Uncle Matthew’s nephew and on his death, Great Uncle Matthew invited Sylvia and her mother to live with him. When Sylvia’s mother also died, she stayed on in the house, taking care of her great uncle. 4. What nickname did the three sisters give to Great Uncle Matthew? Gum G.U.M. was a short way of saying Great Uncle Matthew and this was what the three girls always called him. He had gone away on his travels when they were young, so they were not able to remember him very well, but he was still very important to them. 5. Who was Pauline named for and why? St. Paul She was given the name Pauline because she was rescued from a shipwreck at sea the way St. Paul was. While the author does not

tell us, which ship do you think she was on? Struck by an iceberg, waited in a life boat, rescued by a liner and returned to England? Maybe the Titanic? 6. Who was Petrova named for and why? St. Peter Petrova is a female form of the Russian name for Peter. Since Pauline was named for the Apostle Paul, it seemed fitting for this baby to be named for another apostle. Petrova was adopted by Gum in Russia from a man Gum had befriended but who was dying. He had been an important man before the Russian Revolution. Could Petrova have come from one of the former Russian royalty? Maybe. The author doesn’t say but we can wonder. This is why Posy’s name was a bit unfortunate. It didn’t fit the pattern.  7. What did Gum send for each of the girls as a present to them? Necklaces. Turquiose for Pauline, seed pearls for Petrova and Coral for Posy. 8. What book was Garnie reading to the girls when all of the boarders had moved in? The Secret Garden Has anyone read that book or know what it’s about? Explain plot of the Secret Garden and how the girls might have identified with the character of Mary Lennox. Can you think of other books mentioned by the author in the course of the story? Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, There was mention of poems too…Oh to be in England, The Ancient Mariner, Hiawatha, 9. After the girls had to quit Cromwell House School, what kind of education did they receive? They were homeschooled! Do any of your homeschools look like the girls’ homeschool? Discuss… piano lessons? Co-op? art lessons? The difference is that they were expected to work to help provide for themselves

when they reached the age of 12. Nowadays, you can’t get a job unless you are at least 14 and there are rules about it. 10. Pauline and Posy were very happy at the ballet school, but Petrova was not. What interested her more than dancing and acting? Cars and airplanes Pauline was a good actress and Posy proved to be a talented dancer, but Petrova was much more interested in finding out about Mr. Simpson’s car. 11. Where was Madame Fidolia from originally? Russia Madame had been a dancer in Russia but had left after the revolutions. She opened her ballet school but she taught only the most talented dancers herself. Posy was soon admitted to her class. 12. Do you remember any of the Christmas songs that the carolers sang? Did they sound familiar to you? God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, The Holly and the Ivy, Sleep Holy Babe, Like Silver Lamps. Little clues like this in a work of historical help us understand the time period. 13. After their successful performance in “The Blue Bird”, where did the girls go on holiday? Pevensey Bay Sylvia had rented a cottage at Pevensey Bay and the children were to spend August there. They had long days on the beach and walks to the old castle there. Have you heard the name “Pevensie” before? The Chronicles of Narnia? Those would have been published after this book but the town and the castle are real. Could it have been an inspiration to C. S. Lewis? 14. Why did the girls sell their necklaces and to whom did they sell them? To buy an audition dress for Pauline they sold them to Mr. Simpson Pauline needed a new dress to go on auditions. It was assumed that the rest of the girls would also use it when they were old enough

for a license. He purchased them from the girls for 5 pounds with the agreement that Pauline could buy them back with the money she earned from working. If she did not pay for them herself, Petrova could help and so too Posy when she was of age. Which play did Pauline audition for? Alice in Wonderland. 15. What did Petrova get for her 12th birthday? A picnic, a cake, some crackers (like firecrackers) and a gold half sovereign Half sovereigns weren’t produced from 1926 until 1980 unless it was a special issue for coronation years. Who is on the back side of the half sovereign? St. George! 16. Where did Posy want to go to study ballet? Czechoslovakia Once she had seen Manoff dancing, Posy was quite determined that she should attend his school in Czechoslovakia to learn from him. She went to the theatre where he was rehearsing and persuaded him to watch her dance. He then agreed to take her at his school where he would turn her into a ballerina. 17. How did Posy get to go to Czechoslovakia? Pauline signed a 5year contract with a movie studio. Her salary would pay for Posy’s studies and they both vowed to help get Petrova’s name into the history books. 18. Did Great Uncle Matthew return home at the end of the story? Yes When Gum returned he was rather surprised to find that the babies he had adopted had grown into such big girls. He was happy to hear about Paulina and Posy’s plans for the future. He made Petrova even happier, though, by suggesting that the two of them should go and live near an aerodrome, so that she could study airplanes.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.