Friday, July 2, 2010

July is Classic Books Month on TTLG - Day one

For the month of July I am going to post reviews of some of my favorite books. Some will be picture books or board books, and some will be titles for older readers.

When I was a little girl, my mother had a book that she grew up with that she shared with me. It was called Eloise, and I loved it. Many years later, Simon and Schuster sent me a copy of this same book and I was thrilled to see that Eloise is still going strong. Not long after reviewing this new edition of the the first Eloise title, I went to New York City for a SCBWI conference with my husband. Rather than staying in the hotel where the conference was being held, we stayed in the Plaza Hotel and I was able to have tea in the Palm Court in the hotel, and to whisper a friendly "hello" to the portrait of Eloise every time I went by it. Just a few months ago I took my daughter to the Plaza Hotel, and she paid her respects to portrait of the little girl, just as I had done.

Kay Thompson
Drawings by Hilary Knight
Scrapbook written by Marie Brenner
Picture Book
Ages 5 and up
Simon and Schuster, 1993, 0-689-82703-2
   If you go to the Plaza Hotel in New York City you may be lucky (or unlucky) enough to meet Eloise. Eloise is six and she lives at the Plaza - on the top floor - with her Nanny, her dog Weenie, and her pet turtle Skipperdee. You will soon find that Eloise loves to "talk talk talk," that she has the most vivid imagination, and that she can, at times, be a real pest. For the people who work and stay at the Plaza, Eloise is mostly a pest.
For example, Eloise invites herself to the parties and weddings that are hosted at the hotel. Then there are the times when she rides the elevators up and down, and the times when she goes to "help the Switchboard Operators" by pulling out all the wires on the switchboards. Even Nanny and Eloise's tutor Philip are tried almost beyond the point of endurance at times. Poor Philip is "always glad to go home."
There can be no doubt that Eloise is one of the most fascinating, entertaining, and delightful picture book characters ever created, and this first book about her is a classic. Hilary Knight has created the most wonderful illustrations that perfectly compliment the text. Kay Thompson wrote her story from the point of view of Eloise, which means that the story is full of very long sentences, odd descriptive words, and verbatim accounts of conversations she has had with the people in her life. Nanny likes to use words like "rawther" and "mawning," and Eloise often says "for Lord's sake" which she has clearly picked up from Nanny.
At the back of this special edition there is a "Scrapbook" in which readers will find the story of Kay Thompson, Hilary Knight, and how Eloise came to be created. Naturally, Eloise herself makes comments in some of the captions to the photographs. After all, "me Eloise" is the hero of this tale and deserves centre stage. Readers will be delighted to learn that there is a large portrait of Eloise in the Plaza Hotel in New York City, and that the Plaza is one of the places listed in the "Literary Landmarks Register" - all on account of the precocious six-year-old who loves to drive grown-ups to distraction.

To find out more about Eloise, take a look at her website

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