by Kay Thompson, drawings by Hilary Knight
children's picture book, 1955
Maybe I am too literal minded. Maybe I took this book too seriously. But honestly, I didn't like it at all. And I can't understand why it has become a classic in the literature for young children. It is about a six-year old girl who lives at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. She has a nanny.
Can you see the last line? 'She is my mostly companion' - and that's the truth. Her nanny and the various employees at the hotel are her only friends. Her mother makes an appearance in a section of the book when Eloise tells us she likes to pretend.
Sometimes I am a giant with fire coming out of my hairThat's perhaps a fairly normal child's imaginary situation, but then:
Sometimes I get terribly sick and have to be waited on
Sometimes I get so sick my head falls over and is wobbling until
it is loose
So, this thirty-year old mother 'knows an ad man' and then we find out:
Eloise has a tutor -
And these snippets are just about the sum total of the mentions of Eloise's mother. Achingly sad. I think it is all too clear that this young rich woman leads a jet-setter life in which there is no room for a little girl. Eloise's life truly is at the Plaza.
This book came out when I was little, but I never read it then and didn't read it to my kids. I wonder why? Since Kay Thompson is one of the authors to choose from in the You've Got Mail Reading Challenge, I thought this would be a perfect time to finally read it. I guess I'm sort of glad I did. At least now I know who Eloise is. But again, I just can't see how it got so popular. This is a children's picture book, not a juvenile or young adult book. I can't imagine a child understanding it as her mother or father reads it to her. The language is complicated and the references obscure to most readers. Hilary Knight is a well-known and well-respected artist, and though the illustrations were excellent, this little girl is not in the least appealing. Again, just so sad to me. When the children's librarian saw me with this book, she offered me three other Eloise books. After I finished Eloise, I knew I didn't care to read them, but I did skim through. Because in one she goes to Paris and in another she goes to Moscow, I thought, ah, maybe now she'll be with her mother, but no. Nanny is still her 'mostly companion.'
There's some information about Kay Thompson here.