Pauline, Petrova and Posy are orphans adopted by eccentric fossil collector and explorer Gum ('Great Uncle Matthew'). Leaving them in the care of his niece Sylvia, and Nana, her old nurse, at his London home on the Cromwell Road, Gum goes off to continue his exploring, saying he'll be back in five years time. But after five years come and go, and there is no sign of Gum, Sylvia's money begins to run out.
When the family take in an engaging collection of lodgers to help make ends meet, one of them suggests that the three girls should attend Madame Fidolia's Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training, so that they can learn to support themselves and earn money on the stage. After some excitement, intense competition, occasional disappointments and some hard lessons, Posy proves herself a gifted ballet dancer and Pauline discovers a talent for acting, but Petrova - who loathes dancing and acting - remains true to her passion for mechanics and her dream to become a pilot.
First published in the 1930s, this classic story of three very different girls who work hard to master their talents has captivated children's imaginations - particularly girls' - for decades. Pauline, Petrova and Pauline are brilliantly characterised and always believable: young readers will love following the ups and downs of this warm-hearted family tale.