The Scarlet Stockings: The Enchanted Riddle

Charlotte Kandel, Author Dutton $16.99 (367p) ISBN 978-0-525-47824-9

Paying homage to such favorites as Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes and the ballet film par excellence The Red Shoes , this first novel starts off strong but implodes about halfway through. The conceit has plenty of oomph: Daphne, a 13-year-old orphan raised in a 1920s-era London institution, sustains her spirits by dancing, and is rewarded for her pluck by an anonymously sent parcel containing a book entitled How to Teach Yourself Ballet , a pair of scarlet stockings and a five-line riddle that begins, “First, you must find me.” Before long, Daphne is adopted by greengrocers with hearts of gold, welcomed into a troupe of street performers—and rejected from ballet school. It takes her far longer than it will take readers to realize that the stockings themselves are enchanted and that wearing them will turn her into the finest ballerina of her generation. Of course, there is a price, and readers once again will see it being exacted well in advance of Daphne, who flits from one generous benefactor to the next with barely a backward glance. It’s hard to stay invested in Daphne’s progress. While the author talks about Daphne’s hard work, she doesn’t do so with much authenticity, saving her relish instead for Daphne’s growing haughtiness and for the nasty schemes she and others devise. When Daphne suffers her inevitable fall, the audience may not stick around to watch her get back on her feet for the equally inevitable happy ending. Ages 8-up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 02/01/2008
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4295-9000-6
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