Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Absolutely Essential Eloise

The Absolutely Essential Eloise

Kay Thompson
Illustrator:   Hilary Knight 
Picture Book  Series
For ages 5 and up
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 1993   ISBN: 978-0689827037

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.