About half way through the movie “You’ve Got Mail”, Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan) enters Fox Books, the big, bad bookstore that has forced her out of business. The Shop Around the Corner has closed and so has a big part of Kathleen’s life. She wanders into the children’s section of Fox (which is exactly where I tend to wander to when in a book store) and sits upon a child’s chair looking herself like a lost child. Overhead, at the top of the stairs, we see Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) Kathleen’s nemesis, watching her. Joe Fox is the culprit who has forced the closing of the doors to the bookshop. Kathleen overhears a shopper asking a salesperson if they have the “Shoe” books. The salesperson has never heard of the books and Kathleen, an authority on children’s literature pipes up “Noel Streatfeild. Noel Streatfeild wrote Ballet Shoes and Skating Shoes, Theater Shoes and Movie Shoes. ” Of course, the salesperson doesn’t know how to spell the author’s name and Kathleen does for him.
S T R E A T F E I L D
The whole time, Joe is watching, rolling his eyes at the incompetence of his personnel, fascinated with Kathleen and I, too, watched, and cried with Kathleen and wondered why I had never read the “Shoe” books.
I’ve seen “You’ve Got Mail” more times than I care to confess. It is one of my favorites. Sad to say, it has taken me all this time to finally put on a pair of shoes. Well, one shoe. Ballet Shoe to be precise. How did I miss this as a child? I know I would have loved it as a young girl and I’m sure I would have devoured the series of books.
Have you read any of the “Shoe” books. Do you have a favorite one?
Ballet Shoes is about three little girls, orphans, who end up being rescued as babies in one way or another by GUM (Great Uncle Matthew), an eccentric explorer who brings the baby girls home one at a time over a span of several years to his great niece, Sylvia, who is his ward and her nanny, appropriately called Nana. Sylvia and Nana end up raising the girls, who are not sisters at all, but who give themselves the surname of Fossil and vow to make the name famous because it isn’t the name of a grandfather. GUM’s travels take him away, far away to who-knows-where and the girls, Pauline, Petrova, and Posy end up taking lessons at the Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training so that they can one day, when they each turn 12, perform on stage and earn money.
It is such a wonderful, wonderful book and I found myself saying “just one more chapter” as I turned the pages and imagined myself in London in the 1930′s and would I be Pauline and take immediately to acting or Petrova, who was more bookish and wanted to fly. I know I couldn’t be Posy, up on my toes, but it is fun to imagine, isn’t it, and little boys and little girls need good books, do they not?
Well, I didn’t read the “Shoe” books as a little girl and did not read them to my own little girls, but, maybe one day in the not-so-distant future I can read to this little one – or at least share my “shoes” with her. I simply can’t wait! In-the-meantime, I think I’ll watch “You’ve Got Mail” just one more time and then see about getting another shoe to fit.
PS Have you ever seen “The Shop Around the Corner”? It is as enchanting as “You’ve Got Mail” and one of two movies made earlier with the same theme. With Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as quarreling gift shop employees in Hungary (and pen pals, though they don’t know who each is), it is a really delightful 1940′s film and worth seeking out if you like old movies.