I have recently been at the receiving end of a wonderful bit of serendipity. I had half and hour to kill before my movie started, so, naturally, I allowed my feet to carry me into the Dymocks bookstore. When I go to Dymocks, I only look at two shelves. The first is the Classics section. The second is the Children's Classics section. The latter was where the happy accident took place.
Now before I unveil the surprise, I'd like to back up a bit and give you some context. You know by now that my favourite movie of all times is You've Got Mail, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Meg Ryan plays the beautiful Kathleen Kelly, who is to me and many other book-lovers, the quintessential bibliophile. In the film, after being forced to close down her children's bookstore, Shop Around the Corner, she wanders into her competitor, the Fox Books megastore, where the following dialogue takes place:
A woman browsing, stops a sales person. WOMAN SHOPPER Do you have the "Shoe" books? SALESPERSON The "Shoe" books? Who's the author? WOMAN SHOPPER I don't know. My friend told me my daughter has to read the "Shoe" books, so here I am. KATHLEEN Noel Streatfeild. Noel Streatfeild wrote Ballet Shoes and Skating Shoes and Theater Shoes and Movie Shoes... (she starts crying as she tells her) I'd start with Ballet Shoes, it's my favorite, although Skating Shoes is completely wonderful, but it's out of print. SALESPERSON Streatfeild. How do you spell that? KATHLEEN S-T-R-E-A-T-F-E-I-L-D. WOMAN SHOPPER Thank you.
Ever since I saw this movie for the first time, I have had my eyes peeled for any book by Noel Streatfield. And it was in Dymocks on this particular occasion that I happened across a gorgeous cloth-bound, hard-cover edition of Ballet Shoes, (1936), bound by an actual burgundy ribbon, as seen in the picture below (image from the Book Depository).
And now, instead of whiling away my empty holiday hours, I can take myself into bed and snack on the words of one Noel Streatfeild, courtesy of Kathleen Kelly.