Bonjour, all! This Traditional Thursday, I’m bringing up a book I don’t recall ever reading during my childhood, Eloise. I was reliably informed that Eloise was a childhood favorite of many and I can see why. Eloise was written by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight, and published in 1955.
Eloise is a precious young girl that lives in the Plaza Hotel. Eloise follows the title character throughout the hotel, exploring her world. Her life is populated with simultaneously doting and exasperated adults – which I think, is quite typical of the life of a six-year-old.
Eloise is longer than many picture books. The portrait orientation lends itself to the scenes set in the larger hotel rooms. The added height also benefits the multiple Eloises on most pages, as the reader follows her down each page. The illustrations are done in a simultaneous succession on most pages which can be difficult for the youngest readers/listeners to understand the first time around. This could be one of the reasons the title page designates the book for “precocious grown ups.”
The illustrations are primarily in black and white with shades of red and pink adding interest to the pages. The pinks can color in the real things in Eloise’s world such as robes or tablecloths or bows but they can also indicate the happenings of Eloise’s active imagination.
Eloise is a very precocious young girl and in her efforts to engage with those around her, she often unintentionally causes trouble. As such, adult readers may not want to encourage children to be exactly like Eloise. That being said, Eloise encourages making your own fun and creating excitement out of your own life. Hers is filled with opulent rooms but also the simple pleasures of racing down a hotel hallway – which is something we have all wanted to do (don’t lie). The setting may be unfamiliar to many children but the experiences are relatable, which is what makes this an ideal children’s book.
This may have been my first time reading Eloise but I can see why so many cherish it to this day. However, I have a confession, the thing I was most excited about with Eloise was learning that the author, Kay Thompson, was Maggie Prescott in Funny Face, which was a massive part of my childhood.