ELOISE IN PARIS
By Kay Thompson. Drawings by Hilary Knight
Simon & Schuster. Unpaginated. $17
Reviewed by Kunio Francis Tanabe
Oh my lord, it's Eloise! She's back! Kay Thompson's delightful book Eloise, about a madcap 6-year-old who lives at the Plaza in New York and whose silliest whims are satisfied by the hotel staff just like (snap!) that, has never gone out of print since it was first published in 1955. But her other books have -- Eloise in Moscow, Eloise at Christmastime and this one -- much to the chagrin of her fans. (That would include me, a father who has spent many, many evenings reading the book to his daughter, who, alas, has adopted the rich spoiled brat and Kay Thompson as her role models!)
Thompson died last year almost forgotten, except for her Eloise fans. Decades passed since her career sizzled in showbiz, from coaching Judy Garland to singing with Andy Williams to dancing with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn in "Funny Face." Impetuous as her little heroine, Thompson began and abandoned books and showbiz projects at a dizzying pace, even pulling the plug on her publisher by refusing to allow any of the Eloise sequels to remain in print.
But with Kay Thompson gone, Eloise is back: "Hello Room Service this is me ELOISE we're going to Paris France goodbye . . . kindly forward our mail . . . we're leaving tout de suite which is right away bon voyage and merci beaucoup." In Paris (that's pronounced Paree), she has her carefree nanny to traipse around town with, round and round around the Etoile, up the Eiffel Tower and down the steps of Montmartre.
As in the first book (now reissued as Eloise: The Absolutely Essential Edition with an Eloise scrapbook, from Simon & Schuster at $19.95), what makes Eloise in Paris so pleasurable is Hilary Knight's whimsical drawings, which are totally in sync with Thompson's prose. Here's Eloise sliding down the handrail, ogling an amorous bohemian couple at a sidewalk cafe, jumping in front of a hall of mirrors at Versailles, precariously perched on the banks of the Seine while fishing and -- mon Dieu! -- nanny is nearby flirting with a Parisian.
Of course she returns to New York and the luxuries of the Plaza, where the hotel flag reads, "Welcome Home Eloise." But where are her parents?
Kunio Francis Tanabe is art director and a senior editor of Book World.