Eloise by Kay Thompson – Reviewed by Kimberly Moran
For some, okay most, Eloise is far removed from any kind of reality. But not for me. For me, she was funny, smart, loveable, interesting, also six, and lived at The Plaza Hotel. The Plaza Hotel for God’s sake!
Eloise was read to me weekly long before my sixth birthday, but on my sixth birthday my Father invited me to the Plaza for lunch alone with him. I walked in and was greeted by a larger than life sized portrait of the fabulous Eloise herself. I wore a gray pleated skirt with gray straps that criss crossed across my back and over my shoulders buttoning at the waistband in the front, a white shirt with a scalloped color and buttons up the front, short white socks without ruffles (because my mother thought ruffles were fussy) and shiny black patent leather Mary Janes. I did not wear this outfit because Eloise did. I wore it because that’s what little girls in NYC being raised on the Upper East Side wore.
Being at a fancy place like The Plaza was not that weird for me. Don’t get me wrong I was thrilled to be meeting my father for a special birthday lunch, but spectacular NYC restaurants were where I spent a lot of my childhood. My parents took us everywhere they went probably much to the chagrin of the waitstaff. When the waitress would come, I would order a Perrier with a twist of lemon and say offhandedly, “and charge it please Thank you very much.” This I did say because Eloise did, but also because I knew it guaranteed a laugh.
Eloise by Kay Thompson is a book about a little girl who lives at the Plaza Hotel with her Nanny. Her father is never referenced and her mother is out of town all the time with her lawyer. It is clearly written for and about a jaded, NYC, world weary child and there really are quite a few out there. According to Wikipedia, “Thompson, who lived at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, became most notable as the author of the Eloise series of children’s books, which were partly inspired by the antics of her goddaughter Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli.”
I loved that Eloise kept herself busy constantly by play acting and bothering everyone in the hotel. She had a pet turtle and a pet dog and she made them play with her all day. She had lots of rules about life and ways of doing things that made life more interesting and amusing.
One thing that bothers a lot of people I guess is that Eloise has a nanny. For me, this was a part of the life I lived as well as that of many of my childhood friends. It may be one of those things that you just cawn’t cawn’t cawn’t understand unless you lived it. In the book, Nanny loves her Eloise and Eloise loves her Nanny. I had a nanny growing up and I can say whole-heartedly that the connection between children and a nanny is not something easily explained. When I think of my nanny, my eyes well with tears. She took wonderful care of us and she loved us with all her heart. I think people feel like this is a sad story about a girl who has so little in the way of a family, but I just can’t bring myself to think of it that way. In fact it was quite common for us to quote from this book. Besides saying the charge it please and thank you very much line, we could also quote nanny by saying things three times so that they feel real real real. This book reminds me of my childhood when those around me, now that I live in Maine, don’t really get it. I love Eloise and will always hope for a turtle named Skipperdee.
Kimberley Moran is a lifelong member of the Nerdy Book Club who just remembered to order her card. She is also a First Grade teacher in Southern Maine. She has worked at a lot of non-profits, taught middle school, and been a literacy specialist. She can be found on her blog at 1stinmaine.blogspot.com and on twitter @kagmoran.