This book is a direct sequel to Ballet Shoes, although I read it first this time around. It takes place about ten years after Ballet Shoes, in the middle of World War II. Sorrel, Mark, and Holly Forbes are living with their grandfather because their mother is dead and their father is in the Navy and has now gone missing. When their grandfather dies suddenly they are forced to go and live with their mother’s mother in London. She happens to be a famous actress along with the rest of the Warren family. She assumes that the three children will act as well and enters them in Madame Fidolia’s Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training (at this point those who have read Ballet Shoes go “Aha!”). Sorrel worries because she knows that Mark wants to go into the Navy and their grandmother won’t hear of it. All the same, she grows to like Madame Fidolia’s, where she and Mark and Holly are given scholarships by the Fossil sisters.
I like Theatre Shoes a bit better than Ballet Shoes, mostly because the situation is a little less…absurd. None of the Forbes were rescued off of an iceberg. The characters, with the exception of one, are nicely delineated. Sorrel happens to be my favorite, probably because I am also an oldest child and so I relate to her worries. I also particularly like Hannah, the nurse, and Alice, grandmother’s old dresser. (As in, the woman who took care of her costumes, not the chest of drawers.)
Like Ballet Shoes, Theatre Shoes offers a nice glimpse into life at the time the story is set. It is hard to realize sometimes that even in England people suffered deprivations from the war. As it says at one point, even if they had had the money to buy anything, there simply wasn’t anything to be had.