This book is one of my most special childhood memories. When I was young I dreamt of becoming a ballerina. To me this colouring book was the most perfect representation of that magical world.
I discovered at a very early age that that by colouring a picture I became so immersed in what I was doing I was able to open a secret door and enter an enchanted realm. Later I took to drawing for the same reason - I can inhabit any place of my choosing, limited only by my imagination. In many ways I suppose it is much the same process as writing.
Watkins Strathmore colouring book I was expecting it to contain the pictures found in this one. I realised I had to continue searching. As soon as I saw this copy for sale I snapped it up immediately, even though it is not in mint condition and about half the pictures have been coloured in.
The pictures I've selected for this post have not been coloured. Some of my favourites have been left out but I decided not to include any that have even been partially completed.
I'm not completely sure if the water damage was as bad before the book was posted. To my dismay I discovered that the postman had left it at our front door which we almost never use. My husband spotted it at least a day later after a night of rain (this is Ireland after all). When I opened it I couldn't be sure if the marks on the first few pictures were always there or a result of the parcel becoming wet.
|Amid the sparkle of snowflakes, the Queen dances with her Snow Prince|
|The Sugar Plum Fairy dances in the Kingdom of Candy|
|The Blue Birds dance their famous pas de deux|
|What the ballerina wears|
|The ballerina's partner is called the danseur noble|
|The Three Ivans do a lively dance with tricky steps called prisatki|
|The leading girl dancer (called the ballerina) is the lovely Gizelle|
This picture of Gizelle was always very special to me so I was thrilled it was one that was not coloured in. In my box of paper doll cut outs I had discovered the drawing below. I had traced it from the book (I think I made many copies of this particular drawing.) This was an attempt at making a type of finger puppet - a favourite past time when I was young. The dolls are drawn without legs and the two holes are for you to put your fingers through. The puppet could then 'dance' or 'walk' and as you can see by the state of this example they were well played with!
Birthday cards from this era often contained novel ideas and were beautifully drawn. I probably got the idea for this puppet from a card like this one.
|'Aurora's Wedding' is from the story of 'The Sleeping Beauty'|
|When the boys click heels and bow, this surprised little girl falls down|
|The Can-Can dancers are a dapper gentleman and a china-doll girl|
*all captions taken from the book
Merrill published at least two other colouring books that were versions of this one. I don't own either but I have seen them advertised for sale. The title page of each is different but most of the pictures inside seem to be the same.
When I was 11 a routine medical check at school showed I have curvature of the spine. It was monitored for a while and the effects of increased/decreased sporting activity recorded. The results confirmed increased activity was causing my spine to deteriorate and there was a possibility I would become paralysed. I had to give up everything except swimming. Even at that early age I was pursuing ballet training quite seriously and for a time afterwards I could not even look at a ballet book without becoming upset. But that passed and now these images from childhood bring me nothing but delight.
I'm not looking for sympathy as I've had a varied, interesting and on the whole happy and contented life. Many other pastimes have taken the place of this first 'love' - but as I've devoted at least one post to the topic already I thought it might add some illumination if I explained why I never got to dance in the spotlight.
Bill Woggon- Story of the Ballet can be found at this link. (Posted 5 January 2013)
Next time ....
A is for Apple