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Friday, April 08, 2011

Eloise: The Ultimate Edition

Eloise : The Ultimate Edition
by Kay Thompson
drawings by Hilary Knight

Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 304 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (October 1, 2000)

Published in the 1950s, Eloise books were probably not quite intended as children's books, even though they were centered around a six-year-old girl.

Modern publishers (and parents) are possibly more leery, tending to err on the side of caution when it comes to books targeted for children. As noted in Eloise's Timeline, the character came about quite by accident and unwittingly grew into what we know of her today, with some changes along the way.

Eloise is a city child. She lives at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. She has a nanny who is rawther British ordering her to bawths; she also has a dog Weenie who looks more like a cat, and a turtle Skipperdee. Her father is not in the picture at all, and her mother seems to be sort of a socialite traveler, usually on the periphery.

Eloise is precocious. Which could seem like a cry for attention if one wants to indulge in armchair psychology. But, she is a fictional character, so we just take her for what she is and not read too much into the parenting style or behavioral dysfunction.

Ana read the whole Eloise: The Ultimate Edition, a collection of four books: The Absolutely Essential Eloise, Eloise in Paris, Eloise at Christmastime, Eloise in Moscow.

I didn't. I gave up after two books. There are no full stops at the end of the sentences. Perhaps that didn't bother me as I rather like free verse. But, after a while, the antics got a bit tiresome for my jaded middle-aged mommy brain.

However, I did notice Eloise's effervescence, passion, independence, and imagination. It's hard not to like a girl who says, Here is who my absolute best friend in this whole wide world is: Nanny.

It must be something about the first person narration, the drawings (which are quite funny), Eloise's rather unique lifestyle, and the sometimes-outrageous situations, that kept Ana reading on till finish. At least that's what I gathered from my conversations with her about this volume. "Ello-ees is silly, Mama! She does things she is not supposed to, disturbing people, making trouble... but she has SO much fun!"

Of course, the style of language is quite different from what she has been exposed to, so, Ana didn't quite comprehend every little incident/detail of her adventures, but she kept feeling drawn to it and continued to read it every night, even during commutes, dutifully placing her hand-made bookmark to save the place for next reading session. I think it was the drawings that kept her entertained throughout.

Here's what you have to take if you're going to Paris France
Mary Jane button hooks
Consommé container
Hotel kit

Here's what else you have to take

I thought Eloise in Paris would be Ana's favorite in this collection. It was my favorite. The French phrases, the landmarks in Paris, and the fact that You have to be content with everything in France for instance if you want a jelly bean you can have almond paste instead or if you want the sun you can have pluie and suchlike made it entertaining for me.

It turns out that Eloise at Christmastime is Ana's favorite. "Ello-ees stands in a bucket with Christmas lights wrapped on her and a crown on her head and a candy cane in her hand, Mama!"

For when you are a child of six
it's difficult to know
if you deserve a present or not
at Christmas time or so

And, naturally, Eloise being Eloise, she says, I always hang a two legged Christmas stocking just in case

I borrowed it on a whim, having not read it at all before. I am glad I did. Eloise is the new er.. old Junie B. in Ana's life.

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