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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Child's Ballet Book to Colour - Merrill (1955)

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.

When I bought the 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.  
On the whole those that have been coloured have been finished very nicely.  This title page in particular is beautifully done.  Whoever owned the book originally must have enjoyed it as a child as much as I did.

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.


On the whole I've intended this blog to be be about the art and artifacts that defined my childhood and not about myself.  Sometimes though it is hard to separate the two and after some deliberation I decided I would explain why my ballet 'career' petered out.

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.

Another ballet colouring book Bill Woggon- Story of the Ballet can be found at this link. (Posted 5 January 2013)

Next time ....

A is for Apple


rkbsnana said...

I cannot tell you how much I love your posts. It gives me a warm feeling.

Barbara said...

I’ve never seen a birthday card with a finger puppet, but I will be looking for one now! I love the front cover in the very last picture. It's so beautiful.
I think it’s almost impossible to write a blog without including something of yourself, and it's nice to know why things are important to you and how they figured in your life.
Another lovely post.
Have I mentioned to you? It's a really excellent place to find blogs to follow and followers for your blog. I think most of my followers came from there, I was told about it by another blogger.

sharonssunlitmemories said...

Thank you so much rkbsnana - that's one of the nicest comments I've received!

Hi Barbara - I had a look at bookblogs and started reading some of the discussions - they were so interesting I lost track of time! I've just signed up - pending approval. Thanks for giving me the link.

Barbara said...

Really good news. Hope to see you there soon.

Kylie said...

A lovely post Sharon. I think we all wanted to be ballerina's when we were young. Unfortunately I was (am) incredibly uncoordinated so there was never any chance for it to be more than a dream for me. It must have been such a blow when you were a child to learn that it was not possible to persue something you were so passionate about. I was devasted when my eldest daughter gave up ballet at the age of 16, she had so much potential and after all those years of driving her to classes etc I found it realy difficult to understand. Anyway...her life.
I love these books and cards, they are absolutely gorgeous x

Unknown said...

Oh, I just love these. 'Sleeping Beauty' is one of my favorite ballets. All of these pictures I could frame and hang on my walls. Absolutely lovely.

sharonssunlitmemories said...

'Sleeping Beauty' is one of my favourites as well. I love the birthday celebration sequences - it is such a beautifully feminine ballet!

Unknown said...

Such beautiful illustrations! You have a wonderful blog, thank you for your warm posts and beautiful photos. ~Alicia

Unknown said...

I absolutely loved reading this post! Thank for the time you devoted to creating it!

Unknown said...

I truly enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for the time you devoted to creating it!


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