‘Ballet Shoes’: A Story about Growing Up & Family


Many of you may recognize this title from the reference Meg Ryan’s character makes to Noel Streatfeild in You’ve Got Mail. I know that has been my only introduction to her works. When first reading about this adaptation, I’m not sure the light bulb went off, but either way, I do not regret having stumbled onto this little jewel.

Ballet Shoes (2007) BBC Review

Ballet Shoes

“Great Uncle” Matthew (Richard Griffiths) or “Gum” is an explorer who has no place for children. But he finds himself quite at a loss when he becomes the sole living relative of an eleven-year-old child. The two find they have much in common and Sylvia forms quite an attachment to Gum. Following another exploration trip, he returns with an orphaned baby, who they call Pauline. Not prepared for this “gift,” Sylvia (Emilia Fox) and her Nana take on the job of bringing the child up while Gum returns to his adventures.

His next two trips yield the same kind of souvenir. Two small girls named Petrova and Posey join their unusual family. All of the girls take the surname of “Fossil” and raised in a loving but increasingly poor household by their guardian, Sylvia.

Youngest Posey (Lucy Boyton) holds tightly to ballet shoes from her mother; Petrova (Yasmin Paige) refuses to become a lady; then there is the imaginative Pauline (Emma Watson). Without means, and with Gum gone some twelve years, Sylvia worries about what to do with a family, that while not blood are stitched together by something stronger: love.

FILM REVIEW | Brooklyn: Quiet Period Drama about Home

Charming is the best way to describe this little known novel-to-screen adaption. Unable to compare it to its original form, all I can attest to its story as an adaptation. And what a fabulous job the BBC did in giving the story life. It’s a bit confusing in establishing all the characters, only because two of them have a nickname other than their given name, something we aren’t aware off, so we occasionally find ourselves curious as to who everyone is referring to. Too minor a complaint to spoil the story, there is something wonderfully innocent about Ballet Shoes.

Based on the novel of the same name, #EmmaWatson stars in ‘Ballet Shoes’: A Story about Growing Up & Family. #Movies #PeriodDrama #Adaptation Click To Tweet
Ballet Shoes

Knowing little of this apart from the expectation I have of most any BBC costume drama, this 1930’s drama is a favorite. Ballet Shoes is a story about many things, but at its heart, it’s a coming-of-age tale; I loved its concentration on these girls’ lives and how each comes into their own. The girls do become conceited and selfish, which is sad for a time, and yet this doesn’t dampen how fond of them we remain. Even with all the drama that comes with a tale about sisters.

With such star-studded name recognition, BBC certainly had nothing but the best in this little period piece. Everyone from Emilia Fox to Eileen Atkins appear. Perhaps no one is more impressive than the three fresh faces that portray the Fossil sisters. Emma is naturally known for her role in Harry Potter, but Lucy and Yasmin are newcomers. Each girl is marvelous in her role, and seem quite at ease with her respective character. Lucy in particular is lots of fun, because I’d also seen her in the 2008 miniseries Sense and Sensibility starring as the precocious Margaret Dashwood. Really, I couldn’t criticize one performer – everyone seemed well suited to his or her role. (Costume fans enjoy picking out all those familiar faces and voices from the feature film Sense and Sensibility to BBC’s David Copperfield.)

If looking for something “safe” to watch on one of those girls-night-in, this is a lovely choice. It has heart, and although there is a kind of bittersweet ending, I’m pleased that filmmakers don’t end with this. Instead we see a happy memory, which brings us to the closing credits and leaves us with a smile.

CONTENT: Posey often teases the two elder about their growing out of their dresses “around the bust.” Some of the costumes/dresses may be a bit immodest; other girls attending school are quite competitive. Social drinking is in one or two scenes. A pair of female boarders room together suggesting a lesbian relationship; one appears more masculine (deep voice, eyeglass), the other is more grandmotherly-like with a sweet disposition. The film would earn a PG rating in my estimation.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. I watched this…last year I think? And it was really cute :)The two {female}teachers didn't "ruin my experience" any, because I just didn't think of it that way ;) And I agree, this is such a sweet, girly movie! :)

  2. I loved the book, so I'm rather curious to see if the movie is faithful to the original story. From your summary, it sounds like it is (except for a few minor points). I do have one question though, is there any offensive language? You didn't mention any, so I'm hoping there isn't. Thank you for the recommendation!
    Oh–and Noel Streatfeild is actually a woman. :)

  3. Ruth – me, too! It has been ages since last I watched this one, so it really deserves a re-watch. =)

    Charity – I know that homosexuality is what BBC was getting at, but it was so mild in its implication that it really shouldn't prevent an audience from checking this one out. As you say, it is just sweet, and I enjoyed Emma's performance in this one – it was very emotional.

    Ella – in all likelihood, this one is on YouTube. You might also check your library (if you use it) or Netfilx. Enjoy if you see it – it's so charming. =)

    Trinka – I know, right!? It is one of my favorites.

    I agree with you that the female teachers subplot didn't ruin anything for me. It would have been better if writers had left any such implication alone, but still… way too cute to let it bother us. =)

    Miss Dashwood – oooh! You've not seen this one yet!? It is such a special little movie. I've not read the novel (as usual) but am glad to know that it does it justice – or you feel like it would. Enjoy if/when you see it!

    Language… I don't recall that there is any profanity/offensive language. There is probably a British slang word or two but nothing terrible.

    Thanks for that correction, too! I changed it right away. ;D

  4. I had wondered if this was a good movie, having seen it in the library a couple times. Maybe next time I see it I'll get it :) Thanks for reviewing! Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Cause You Are!)

  5. Sierra – it is SO cute! You should rent it next time you are in the mood for something new on film. =)

    AnnaKate – agreed! Awww… I always liked dance but never took any lessons – your cousin, no doubt, enjoys that. (I think dance is a beautiful "sport.") Glad to know that the books are just as good – perhaps I should read them sometime.

    Thank you! I appreciate readers feedback, whether it be positive or negative – of course, I am most happy when it is in the positive. ;D Thanks for including me in your tag!!

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