Eloise at Christmastime Gives Holiday Depression

Eloise at Christmastime is another in Kay Thompson’s highly successful books “for precocious adults” illustrated by Hilary Knight.

There’s no real plot here. Eloise at Christmastime is more merchandise than storybook: the literary equivalent of Disney-character drinking glasses sold for 99¢ with a McDonald’s cheeseburger. It it weren’t for Knight’s drawings, there would be no book.

Thompson captures the self-absorption of a six-year-old to perfection, letting Eloise narrate her own story. Talking about herself is what Eloise does best.

Her usual brattiness accentuated by holiday excitement, Eloise runs wild through the Plaza Hotel where she lives on the top floor with Nanny. Poor Nanny does her best to provide some structure and stability for Eloise, but her orthopedic oxfords can’t keep up with Eloise’s Mary Janes.

Mother, as usual, is off traveling. She sends Eloise a cartwheel hat and calls her long distance from the Mediterranean on Christmas Eve.

I didn’t find previous Eloise books amusing, but this one struck me as downright depressing. There’s something about see a six-year-old exchanging gifts with a dog and a turtle while Mother works on her tan in the Mediterranean that makes me want to howl.

Sadly, there are too many Eloises in the world today—and too few Nannies.

Eloise at Christmastime
by Kay Thompson
Drawings by Hilary Knight
Random House, 1958
1958 Bestseller #6
My Grade: D
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni
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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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