The last ten days I have been at my parents’ newly acquired Swedish vicarage painting and enjoying life (indoors since we experienced something close on deluge most of the time). The bookshelves of this house are many and they are filled mostly with novels in Swedish, and then some in English, French, German, and Danish. There are also books on nature, history, gardening, cooking, book loving, art, and medicine. And some poetry.
And then there are the children’s bookshelves. Every time I go there I find something wonderful from my childhood that I had forgotten. This time I found Eloise.
Eloise is a six-year-old who lives in the Plaza hotel in New York. She does only what she likes and is a sort of American Pippi Longstocking, just without the supernatural powers. She has the bag full of gold though and one of her favourite phrases is “charge it please”.
I had quite forgotten about Eloise (or Louise as she was called in the Danish translation) but when I pulled the book from the shelf the entire story came back to me. Especially one image impressed me as a child: the one where she sits high up in a niche under the ceiling of a ballroom.
I imagined myself up there having a hiding place like that complete with biscuits, torch, good books, and the possibility of peeking down at passers-by. This daydream stayed with me for years. I am sure Eloise would not be content with staying up there for very long though. She would probably exclaim “boring, boring, boring!” and leave the niche instantly.
I found a very precise review on Amazon:
This story is about a misbehaving six-year-old who colors on the walls, throws temper tantrums, makes faces, destroys her dolls, and for all intensive purposes acts like a two-year-old. (…) Parents might object to the condescending way she treats adults and her distain for education. (She has a private tutor who is “boring boring boring” who she doesn’t listen to “very often.”) Throughout the story she repeatedly says “Oh my Lord!” which some parents may find objectionable. The story is presented in a grammatically incorrect, stream-of-consciousness writing style from Eloise herself, that, if you are able to suffer through it, leaves you craving a well-written story about a much nicer (and more coherent) child than Eloise.
My craving after rereading the book was more after the other Eloise books, but then people differ…
Eloise is written by Kay Thompson and magnificently illustrated by Hilary Knight.