Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes is one of those classic kids' books I failed to read as a child. I wish I had; I know I'd have loved it. But I've read it now, at any rate, and it's one of those kids' books that holds up well to adulthood.
Pauline, Petrova, and Posy Fossil are three orphans, brought home one by one by Great-Uncle Matthew (otherwise known as Gum) after he had filled up the house with real fossils. They are looked after by Gum's niece Sylvia (otherwise known as Garnie) and Nana. Gum goes away on one of his adventures, leaving the Fossils and their guardians provided for for five years. Five years pass, and Gum still has not returned. To earn money they must go to Madame Fidolia's Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training. It's not an ideal situation--Pauline loves acting and Posy cares only for dancing, but Petrova wants to drive cars and fly planes. Still, they get along well enough, though the money is slowly running dry.
It strikes me that no modern children's book would be so much about money worries. This, however, was written in 1937. Most of the story is about how the children must find a way to earn money. It's an interesting comparison.
So it's a lovely book, which I wish I'd read when I was younger but which was not spoiled by my being too old.