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December 24, 2022 91 min

Merry Christmas Everyone! This year’s Backlisted Christmas special celebrates Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, a classic of children’s literature and the childhood favourite of our producer, Nicky Birch. We are joined by the writer Una McCormack and Tanya Kirk, the Lead Curator of Printed Heritage Collections (1601-1900) at the British Library, who are both lifetime Streatfeild fans. Ballet Shoes was an immediate bestseller upon publication and the runner-up for the inaugural Carnegie Medal. It has never been out of print and was the first in a series of ‘Shoes’ books by Streatfeild. It has been adapted many times both as an audiobook and for film and television and in 2019 BBC News included Ballet Shoes on its list of the 100 most influential novels of all time. We discuss why this might be the case and much more besides and even hear from Miss Streatfeild herself. And it being a Christmas episode, there is a fiendish festive quiz. We also feature two other classic books by writers best known through their writing for children. John discusses A Giant in the Snow by John Gordon, an eerie Puffin classic from 1968, while Andy revels in the darkness of John Christopher’s The Death of Grass, first published in 1956, a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel, definitely written for adults and perfect for cutting through your post-lunch torpor. Enjoy!

Timings: (may differ due to variable advert length)

16:39 A Giant in the Snow by John Gordon

22:04 The Death of Grass by John Christopher

29:32 Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

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* For information about everything mentioned in this episode visit

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