Kay Thompson ~ drawings by Hillary Knight
Simon & Schuster ~ 1955
I've been hesitant to write of these books because I feel as if the moment the cranky old coot Kay Thompson kicked the can, Hillary Knight and Ms. Thompson's heirs proceeded (bless their hearts) to sell sweet little Eloise to the highest bidder. Famously, the short version of the legend is that in her old age, Ms. Thompson was so jealous of the attention and fame lavished on her pint-sized alter ego, that she stopped allowing any merchandising of the character and even withheld all of the followup books from reprint. So when she died, her sister and Mr. Knight lavishly cashed in... and not to say that I blame them, but still... It was hard to have loved a character for as long as I have loved Eloise, and then to see her pimped out in every fashion imaginable... (This is why we love Calvin and Hobbes and loathe the day when Bill Watterson passes on and all those decals with Calvin whizzing on various truck logos suddenly become legal and endorsed.)
That said, I have finally re-fallen in love. My son has discovered Eloise with a vengeance, and it seems to help that he has a wee bit of a crush on a girl at school with a similar name. He loves Eloise, and keeps telling me he wants to find a girl just like her to play with... (YES! but who doesn't really?) As a girl, Eloise would sleep with me ~ tucked under the covers ~ her sharp edges jabbing me in the ribs all night. I would imagine myself just like her... fearless and alive even if she seemed to be motherless for the most part. But who cared really because she had room service and Skipperdee and Weenie and Nanny and she talked to pigeons and lived in The Plaza!!!!
One of the few books I give the coveted 80 THUMBS UP award to. The drawings are hysterical... the inner life of the child, witty and outrageous! From the fold-out elevator map to the particularly awesome imaginary scenes with their see-through line drawings, every inch of this book is lovely and daring and fabulous and fun...
Getting bored is not allowed
Sometimes I comb my hair with a fork
Sometimes I wear my arm in a sling
Sometimes I put a rubber band on the end of my nose
Toe shoes make very good ears
Sometimes I wear them to lunch
Please, please, please ignore the movies and the dolls and the rings and the things that go along with this one, and remember this book for what it really is... one of the finest books for children ever published.
The Circus is Coming