Monday, June 8, 2009


So last night I watched the television program of Ballet Shoes starring the thin woman from Silent Witness and Hermione from Harry Potter. I liked it more than I was expecting to, but not quite as much as I was hoping to. I thought it was a pretty intelligent adaptation, culling bits that didn't add much to the characters or actions and still managing to get the feel across in a quick-and-dirty sort of way. The romance I felt was poorly handled, and also not in the book. I didn't feel all horrors and et alors about that, but I did think that poor old Theo ended up rather shabbily treated and with a highly sketchy backstory to boot.

The moments I liked best were, of course, to do with the auditions. The short moment of Pauline (Hermione) reciting Shakespeare in the black velvet dress was spot on. Pauline acted and looked exactly like I have always imagined her in this scene and very reminiscent of the illustrations in my edition of the book. I was rather bothered, however, by the non-Tenniel like nature of Pauline's Alice dress. Wrong. Also Winifred was not, to my mind, at all selfish and precious in the book - rather she was desperate for cash and kind. Conflating her with the dancer with the big bottom was just plain silly, even as a device to keep Posy's amusing impersonations in the story.

Overall, not enough about clothes or dancing. The organdie dresses did not take nearly enough work, and did not look nice at all. Where are the ruffles, I asked myself, and why would Nana let the girls out dressed in their slips?

I didn't mind, really, the way Garny's story was increased. From an adult perspective it didn't hurt to understand a bit more of the pressure that Garny was under, and how the three children had pretty much sucked up every moment of her adult life. No one ever asked what Garny wanted in the book, as I recall. As a child, I never much wondered either. But as a slightly grouchy 37 year old I wanted to know.

I've also been reading a fantasy novel that has a bit too much of the adaptation for my liking. Oddly, it only hurts me because the author clearly read and loved many of the same fantasy books I did when I was a young gel. The list, I think, in order of influence includes Lord of the Rings, Dragonsong and Dragonsinger and the Earthsea books. With a dash of the Dark is Rising. It's quite horrid reading along, in a perfectly functional fantasy narrative, only to find yourself in a barely disguised Lothlorien crossing a river with a rope, or meeting someone who owes a bit too much to both Aragorn and Gandalf. Or arriving at a music school only to think that Robinton should come striding in any moment. Thankfully, there are no dragons in this book (yet).

The truly irritating thing is that the person obviously can write, and has some perfectly sound ideas of their own. The story and the characters finally found some form towards the end of the book, so I'll give the sequel a go and optimistically hope for the best.

Or otherwise I'll read one of the Noodle's Asterix books. The Noodle's reading list at the moment consists of Asterix, Horrible Histories, a now-lost book on the Periodic Table of the Elements and the Samurai Kids series. Over and over and over again.

He has also announced that he wishes to be a graphic designer when he grows up. He wants to design posters and brochures and he wants to open up a magazine and see his work inside it. Sounds like a plan.


mimbles said...

I missed seeing Ballet Shoes last night as I was out with a friend watching Star Trek for a second time. However, I see it is available on iView so I might just make myself a cuppa and cuddle up with my laptop for the evening.

We have the Asterix books on high rotation in this house too, when I hear bursts of chuckling coming from my no. 1 son's room well after lights out I can be pretty sure that's what he's reading. My youngest is on a Beast Quest binge, he devours them in a couple of hours and then rereads them several times over - at least I feel like we're getting our money's worth out of them.

ThirdCat said...

yes, sounds a lot like our reading list, though there is more tintin than asterix and a rather large helping of Mr Gum.

Man O'Sand said...

Would you like to apprentice the young fellow? I know a competent graphic designer who would take him under her wing if he was to perform odd jobs around the house and perhaps sweep a chimney or two.

Anonymous said...

Ballet shoes was sweet, I wanted it to linger over some things more, the resolutions were all a bit rushed.

Poor noodle, I hope the current career aspiration is just a phase.

Fifty pages to go on The Children's Book, I need a good rebound book to soften the blow, any suggestions?

Girl O'Sea

Penthe said...

Mr Gum? He is new to me. Tintin seems not to be sticking.

Ms Sea, I think your beauty and goodness may have something to do with the aspiration - so I may have to take Mr Sand's proposal seriously.

Post Children's Book you might like to read something a little fluffy. Maybe a dash of Phryne Fisher? I'm enjoying Lily Brett as well. I spent most of today with her in New York and Mexico when I should have been thinking sensible thoughts about improving the lives of Australians. Not specifically Australian writers in New York, that is.

Ampersand Duck said...

I found myself thoroughly confused by the Ballet Shoes adaptation. Who were they adapting it for? Sometimes I thought it was the adult nostalgia market, sometimes the early teen timeslot. I came away full and warm in the way you do after a good bit of comfort food, but a bit grumpy about the patchy approach. I'm glad you mentioned it.

Ampersand Duck said...

And I just CAN'T do Phryne Fisher. Is there something wrong with me? I get ten pages in and want to chuck the book down the loo.