Noel Streatfeild, whom I've mentioned before, is best known for Ballet Shoes.
This title is still in print and not worth listing, but she wrote many other show business books. The American editions were all re-titled to include the word "shoes," including Dancing Shoes, Skating Shoes, Movie Shoes, and Family Shoes. The English editions retain the original titles: Wintle's Wonders, White Boots, The Painted Garden, and The Bell Family among them.
Little girls still dream of being ballerinas, and there are many contemporary books available to satisfy their passion. ChildrensLit has an extensive list, with pictures for those of you who are visual learners.
And you'll also find lists on Amazon. The best approach for more recent titles is to use bag day sales to put together lots.
Along with ballet, there was the lure of the bright lights of Broadway. Helen Dore Boylston is best known for her Sue Barton nurse books, but she also wrote (with the help of her actress friend and neighbor Eva Le Gallienne) the Carol Page books - Carol Goes on Stage, Carol on Broadway, Carol Goes Backstage, Carol Plays Summer Stock, and Carol on Tour. These are much, much harder to find. A full set of this series might get you close to Power Seller status on eBay!
Janet Lambert, another author who has previously appeared in my columns, couldn't resist the lure of the theater in some of her Penny Parrish books.
In fact, she had so much fun putting Penny on the stage that she wrote the Parri MacDonald series about Penny's daughter, who also aspires to tread the boards. Happily, if you're a reader (or sadly, if you're a bookseller), Janet Lambert has been re-printed in paperback, but her avid fans will still snap up any hardbacks that you come across.
Showboat Summer, one of the Pam and Penny books by Rosamund Du Jardin, is a summer romance book with a theater background.
Again, note the double flashpoints; this time it's theater and twins.
The eight-volume Peggy Lane series, written by Virginia Hughes, was actually penned by a syndicate in the 1960s.
The Girls' Series Companion sums it up rather well:
"This series is based on the premise that a girl from Rockport, Wisconsin - having no previous acting experience - can come to New York and become a stage and screen actress in a short period of time. Initially, Peggy gets some unbelievably lucky breaks that will irritate anyone who has struggled and starved to become an actor."
These are more common in paperback, although Grosset & Dunlap did publish hardcover versions with quite sophisticated and distinctive cover art. Keep an eye out for later titles such as Peggy Finds the Theater, Peggy Plays Paris, or Peggy Goes Hollywood.
The crossover genre of career romance novels for young adults of course includes books on the theater and dance. Yankee Ballerina by Marie-Jeanne and Hollywood Starlet by Dixie Wilson are but two examples.
Have you noticed a trend here? Many desirable children's books have double if not triple flashpoints. I can't recall any books about an orphaned little witch who becomes a dancing sensation and then adopts a pet cat, but I am sorely tempted to write one. It would become an instant classic. In the meantime I'll keep looking for books with pictures of stage lights and tutus on the cover!
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