Patrick's Reviews > Eloise

Eloise by Kay Thompson
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Aug 24, 14

bookshelves: don-t-read-these-books-to-your-kids
Read in March, 2013


This book should be titled: "How to be a spoiled little bitch."

I asked my little boy if he's like to read some books the other day, and he brought over this one, asking if I'd read it next.

I'd never read it before, which is fine with me. I like to read him new books. Too much repetition can get wearying to me.

But this book... Seriously. It pissed me off.

I've read bad children's books before. Books with bad stories. Books that were nausiating with sweetness and love. Books that were obviously just a vehicle for someone to poke their religion into an unsuspecting child.

But this one actually made me want to rage-quit.

What bothers me more than anything is that this is a *classic* book. I'm guessing a lot of you grew up reading it. I just looked online and found hundreds of reviewers *gushing* about how charming and *Mawhvelous* a character Eloise is.

But she's not. Eloise is a little bitch.

She's six years old, and uses the Plaza as her personal playground. She bothers people in the lobby. She bothers people in the elevators. She says one of her favorite things to do is run down the hallway with sticks, hitting the doors of other guests. She crashes other people's weddings.

The manager of the hotel says she's a nuisance. But he says it with a forced smile on his face? Why? Because Eloise tells us that her mom knows the *owner* which is apparently why she lives in the penthouse and gets to do whatever she wants.

And that's it. That's the whole story, just her running around, amusing herself, making up games, and being a little monster. Forever.

Where are her parents? She has none. A father is never mentioned at all, and her mother is away somewhere, busy meeting important people. "My mother knows Coco Chanel."

Instead she has a nanny. A nanny who apparently spends most of the day up in the penthouse sniffing glue, because Eloise is never supervised when she's running around the hotel.

There's no moment when she feels compassion for anyone. No moment where she doesn't get her way. No one ever criticizes her. At the end of the book she thinks to herself, "Maybe tomorrow I'll pour a pitcher of water down the mail chute."

The end. No moral. She doesn't learn anything. Doesn't change.

She is just a little bitch.

Here's the one thing I'll say for it. Back when it was written, in the early 50's, it was probably wonderfully refreshing for little girls to see a little girl misbehaving. A little girl with power. A little girl living a wish-fulfillment life where she does whatever she likes, never gets in trouble, everyone has to be nice to her, and she eats room service ever day.

But today, in 2013? Do you honestly think that's something kids need to learn? Fuck no.

You know what Eloise reminds me of? She reminds me of a stereotypical American. The sort of American that people believe in over in Germany and Spain and China. She is loud, spoiled, rude, and entitled.

And she never, *ever* gets in trouble. No one ever even speaks a hard word to her.

I'm not saying this book doesn't has it's charming parts. The voice is good. The art is good. The book wouldn't have been a success without those things.

But is it a good book for children in this day and age?

No. No it really isn't. Not unless you're trying to show your kids a good example of how to act like total little unlovable bastards.

Let's just be clear here. Eloise isn't "precocious" she's not "a scamp."

She is a little monster. She's the sort of child that if you saw her in real life, you'd look up at her parents (who would probably be ignoring her while sipping half-decaf lattes and thumb typing on their iphones) and say, "Hey. You. Yeah you! Get over her and control your fucking demon spawn of a child! She just tipped over a magazine rack and is pouring all the cream into the toilet! What? Yes I'd say that is your problem. No. No, she's not a free spirit. You're a careless idiot. She's your responsibility. Be a goddamn parent for five minutes and institute some discipline!"

And then I would just start choking people until I went to jail.

So... yeah.

Didn't like this book much.

I don't recommend it.

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Comments (showing 1-50 of 137) (137 new)


message 1: by Mandor (new)

Mandor I am curious to know why this book rendered a one star rating from you, as you typically seem to be generous in your ratings. I'd love to read your review on it, but I'm not sure some sort of "author's code" or superstition exists where you do not write negative reviews about each other. (I mean no offence by this).


Patrick Mandy wrote: "I am curious to know why this book rendered a one star rating from you, as you typically seem to be generous in your ratings. I'd love to read your review on it, but I'm not sure some sort of "auth..."

You must have written this while I was typing up the review, before I posted it.


message 3: by Mandor (new)

Mandor I must have! It was a good review; thanks for sharing it.


message 4: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Yup. It's been debated whether Eloise was based more on Liza Minneli (Kay Thompson's goddaughter) or Thompson herself (she once said, "I am Eloise"), but either way, /rage.


Sarah Stephens HAHAHAHAHA I LOVE your review and reciprocate your feelings good sir! :)


message 6: by Tapati (new)

Tapati I guess it would be worthwhile as a jumping off point to discussing why manners are important and how very annoying Eloise must be to people who have to deal with her. (And why tampering with mail is a major crime...)


message 7: by Tyson (new)

Tyson My mom loves this book and even has a print from it on her wall. I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about how it must have been received in the 50s by young girls. I've never read it, but you make it sound like a fantasy for children. Fantasies can be all about wish fulfillment. Isn't this how every kid wants to act? It's not a primer on how they should. Like Die Hard is a fantasy for grown men or Sex in the City for grown women.


Hadley I don't know... I grew up reading Eloise... it is not so much about the reading or the story as it is about being lucky enough to look at Hillary Knight's illustrations. The reason we own all the Eloise books is because of Knight's illustrations. Both my kids know Eloise's behavior would not go over well were they to try it. Neither would want her as a friend. I always give Eloise a fairly haughty voice when we read it and Nanny a BBC accent. Eloise isn't anyone's dream child. She's poorly behaved and no doubt has caused a lot of grey hair for those who manage the Plaza... but it is fun to visit the actual Plaza in NYC and see the portrait of her. More than anything my children love Weenie and Skipperdee and that page which opens up to show the elevator and the fact that Nanny has a mole, which is what I also loved as a child. I think it is the randomness which delights them, and how insane Eloise's day is, and that when they are reading it, even if they themselves have gotten in trouble that day, they know that they will never top the type of trouble Eloise would get in if she were to live here. ;)


message 9: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Haley It's a shame more things aren't reviewed based on the values they represent. Can't help but think it would kill the movie and videogame industries dead though.


message 10: by Simon (new)

Simon I haven't read Eloise in a long time, nor any thing on such a low level. However, your review of this book is pretty much what I remember of it. I really love it when you post reviews, and being able to see what authors say about other books. Keep on making reviews, they are really funny. But most of all, keep on writing! I can't wait for The Doors Of Stone to come out......


message 11: by Pam (new)

Pam I would love to here what you have to say about "the cat" of cat in the hat fame.


message 12: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Haley Maybe Eloise isn't a kids book at all and is in fact a warning about the dangers of absentee parenting.


message 13: by Richard (new)

Richard Tokebroker Rothfuss, thank you for the chuckle! You should tackle Little Critter next, or perhaps Dav Pilkey's Dragon books! I imagine you wouldn't dislike those, though, seeing as Dragon promotes friendship and Little Critter actually faces the reprecussions of his actions. Have Oot give those a try, if ye dare.


message 14: by John (new)

John I have to say I have never read this book, either to myself or a child... and now that I'm aware of it I never intend to do either.


message 15: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen I hope it's not just me..but I automatically want to jump in to defend Eloise! (the character) Eloise's behaviour is probably the result of the neglect and this book is probably even a wee bit educational for children and adults alike to gain an insight into why acting out and certain misbehavior can occur In Kiddies.

I may be over analysing or too sensitive over children :D I so much hate the idea that Eloise is just simply a little bitch.


message 16: by Charles (new)

Charles Shingledecker GREAT, hilarious, and somewhat sad review! I've never read this book, but I've heard about it for years. The sad thing is, I see kids like this ALL of the time. And even worse, is that when these kids grow up, they're going to be a mess. I see it happening with people I know -- and of course, now they don't understand why their kids are out doing some really bad stuff that's only going to screw up their lives. Of course, that's the real shame in glorifying this behavior in literature.


message 17: by Meredith (new)

Meredith This review is gold! Pure gold!


message 18: by Jack (last edited Mar 23, 2013 03:35PM) (new)

Jack Rumbold the antidote. http://www.bl.uk/learning/langlit/dic... and check out marmalade atkins too....


message 19: by Ben (new)

Ben Lafleur Having fairly recently moved in with my girlfriend and consequently begun co-habitation with a ten year old boy and an eleven year old girl, I find myself having internal debates around the value of the stuff going into their minds pretty reguarly.

Professional wrestling and the Disney Channel are their entertainment and they both really hate reading. I read a lot. I'm hoping eventually they'll get curious and stumble over that one book that starts them off. It was Stephen King's Eyes of the Dragon for me which led to me begging my parents to let me read his other stuff. After scaring the hell out of myself with that, they gave me some David Eddings and Michael Crichton. I've been hooked on Sci-Fi and Fantasy ever since.

Maybe you'll have more luck keeping Oot off wrestling since you're catching him earlier


message 20: by Luke (new)

Luke Best review EVER! Hahahaha!


message 21: by Jessica (new)

Jessica God bless you, Pat. I had never heard of Eloise until I was in college. I read this book and went, WHAT THE HELL?!


message 22: by Samara (new)

Samara Gagne Did we just become best friends?


message 23: by Misha (new)

Misha I have started to dislike Maurice Sendak for similar reasons. When you read children's books to actual children you realize how often children are portrayed being brats or bullies. I feel like the portrayal starts to reinforce the same.


message 24: by Matthew (new)

Matthew The best part about this book is that it caused this review, which made my day.


message 25: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Coble I swear I thought I was the only person who had this reaction to Eloise. Everyone is always talking about how wonderful it is and how much they love it. All I can think about is how I want to Jasper Fforde that book so I can ground the hell out of Eloise.


message 26: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Misha - My husband insisted that we have a copy of Where the Wild Things Are in our nursery as soon as our first child was on the way. But now that we have actual children, he's like, What a terrible book! Don't give the kids ideas!


message 27: by Katus (new)

Katus Never read it, and never will now! This is how I feel about Denis the Menace... he's a little shit!


message 28: by Will (last edited Mar 23, 2013 05:20PM) (new)

Will Hogue Dear sir,

I lol'd hard at your review. I used to work in the children's section of the Tyler Public Library and the same thoughts came to mind every time I saw this book. Thank you.


message 29: by Pablo (new)

Pablo Guzmán God, it was funny. I laughed a lot, just because I remembered a lot of children like Eloise. I hate kids. I really hate them. (well, not literally "hate", I just can't stand them) So no, I wont read this book. Thanks for your "not recomendation", this interesting review and your sense of humor. Greeting from Chile!


message 30: by Sayer (new)

Sayer I laughed so hard hahaha


message 31: by Zakh (new)

Zakh This is single handedly the best review I have ever read. That is all.


message 32: by Alisha (new)

Alisha Gifford This is the best book review ever!


message 33: by John (new)

John This is the first book review that made me actually laugh out loud.


message 34: by Heather (new)

Heather This review is so awesome, especially in how well you put everyone's feelings about devilspawn into words. Absolutely perfect, and definitely makes you want to think twice about reading this to any child.


message 35: by Abby (new)

Abby This is the first review that I have seen of yours that didn't get a 5 star rating, and it got a one. You're a man of extremes. I'm not sure that I trust you.


message 36: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Egan I haven't read this one, but I DID read another kids book that made me feel EXACTLY as ragey as this one made you feel. And it was published just last year. If I could have written a review like this about it, I would have. x


message 37: by Greg (last edited Mar 24, 2013 01:08AM) (new)

Greg Repice Ha. This is the first book i noticed you gave a bad review. I think I am going to read it because how bad you think it is.


message 38: by Robert (new)

Robert I've never read this book. But from your review, it sounds exactly like the (recent) movie "St Trinian's".


message 39: by Arturo (new)

Arturo Espinoza LOL


message 40: by Brandi (new)

Brandi I work in a library on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and this book is touted as an excellent classic by both patrons and my colleagues alike. I had not read it as a child and once I did, I saw why. My childhood related not a whit to Eloise's privileged, spoiled, neglected existence, thank goodness!

I am so glad you posted this review, Patrick, that someone else feels the same way about this "classic" children's book. As you say, it may have worked somewhat back at its original printing's time, but not in this day and age. Thank you for your thorough, enlightening reviews!


message 41: by Tom (new)

Tom That was awesome


message 42: by Anne-sophie (new)

Anne-sophie Olsen Brandi wrote: "I work in a library on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and this book is touted as an excellent classic by both patrons and my colleagues alike. I had not read it as a child and once I did, I saw ..."

I am a librarian in a danish library and I can safely say this book never made it across the ocean to us. I have never heard about it, and people here would find it.... bad,in the same way Patrick does. There is a reason we don't know it over here I guess.


message 43: by Emelie (new)

Emelie I really enjoy reading your reviews. Especially this one. I read a lot to my sisters children so I found it both interesting and funny. Thanks. :)


message 44: by Luis (new)

Luis I think this should be posted on Amazon.com as a review or at least linked to this page. Hilarious!


message 45: by Latifah (new)

Latifah Torki There is NO rant like a Pat rant.
Thanks for making me g u f f a w.


message 46: by April (new)

April I'm curious as to Oot's reaction to the story.


message 47: by Lucas (new)

Lucas Typical American huh. That's a pretty stupid comment! If we're all such horrible latte drinking bastards that are to busy to watch our kids maybe you should take your precious perfect self and move to china. Where we all know they take great care of there kids. That's your example right Sweden china and Germany.


message 48: by Stanton (new)

Stanton How dare you apply critical thinking to a children's book! Seriously, Pat, you're hilariously spot on. And don't get me started on Curious George.


message 49: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne What a breath of fresh air you are, Pat! The really sad thing is there are so many Eloise's today! Just go to any restaurant if you don't believe me! I've had some strange kid dig through my purse, I've seen some strange kid walk up to our table and shove his filthy little hands on my plate to take food, and I've seen an unattended brat trip a waiter carrying a tray full of food including my dinner! And people wonder why some little monsters grow up into big monsters who shoot up theaters or schools. Blame it on the guns? Fuck no! Blame it on the parents!


message 50: by Antoinette (new)

Antoinette I am curious-what did your son think about it?


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