Meet Eloise. She is 6. She is a city child. She lives at The Plaza.
This perfectly written character was created by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight back in 1955, but I have a feeling many of you have never heard of her. I have that hunch because even I, who grew up in a very literary family and made a career out of this stuff didn't get to know her until my husband Taylor gave me the book for my college graduation present 2 1/2 years ago. As Taylor read it out loud to me that night (just the way his mother had for years, as it was a classic Cropper book) I fell in love with Eloise. Then I shared her with my students and now they all adore her. (Actually, I love her so much that I dressed up like her for Halloween at school and all the kids died about it!) And now I share her with you.
Here's what we love about Eloise:
- It's written in first-person, from Eloise's perspective of course. So there are grammar errors ("She is my mostly companion") and made up words (Sometimes I sklonk him in the kneecap"). And she, like any good 6 year old, mimics all of the grownups in her life ("Our day maid's name is Johanna She has earrings with garnets and is going to take her Social Security to Bavaria on her birthday"). You may have noticed some punctuation errors in these quotes. That's yet another brilliant way Kay Thompson helps you hear Eloise's voice. (Can't you just hear a 6 year old you know rambling on and changing the topic every 9 seconds?)
-The supporting characters are perfect. Nanny the nurse "always says everything 3 times like Eloise you cawn't cawn't cawn't." Skiperdee is a pet turtle that "eats raisins and wears sneakers." Weenie is "a dog that looks like a cat." Not to mention all of the snooty adults Eloise interacts with at the Plaza.
-The Eloise-isms (referred to as "Eloisiana" by Kay Thompson) have become a part of the Cropper family language and became common phrases in my classroom as well. Things like: "Here's what I like," "Here's what I can do," "Charge it please," and of course, "Ooooooooo I absolutely love _____."
Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight also did Eloise in Paris, Eloise at Christmastime, and Eloise in Moscow. These are all wonderful, but the original is the best. There are also Eloise books by other authors (see my Valentine's Day post) that are clever but don't hold a candle to the genius of Thompson and Knight.
In my opinion, you simply must must must have Eloise in your family library. Make it a family tradition. Always read it aloud and do all the voices. So look it up on Amazon or rush out to Borders and "charge it please Thank you very much!"