Eloise in Moscow

( 6 )

Overview

Odd Couple Invade Russia and Produce Best-seller
When Kay Thompson (with Hilary Knight in tow) swept through Moscow at the height of the Cold War, the Russians didn't know what hit them. No one could have predicted that this small masterpiece would be the result. First published in 1959 and out of print for more than three decades, their fourth book about Eloise is DELICIOUS.

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Overview

Odd Couple Invade Russia and Produce Best-seller
When Kay Thompson (with Hilary Knight in tow) swept through Moscow at the height of the Cold War, the Russians didn't know what hit them. No one could have predicted that this small masterpiece would be the result. First published in 1959 and out of print for more than three decades, their fourth book about Eloise is DELICIOUS.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689832116
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2000
  • Series: Eloise Series
  • Edition description: 40th Anniversary Edition
  • Edition number: 40
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 262,343
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.69 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Kay Thompson (1909-1998) was a singer, dancer, vocal arranger, and coach of many MGM musicals in the 1940s.
The Eloise character grew out of the voice of a precocious six-year-old that Miss Thompson put on to amuse her friends. Collaborating with Hilary Knight on what was an immediate bestseller, Kay Thompson became a literary sensation when Eloise was published in 1955. The book has sold more than 2 million copies to date. Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight created four more Eloise books, Eloise in Paris, Eloise at Christmas, Eloise in Moscow, and Eloise Takes a Bawth.

Hilary Knight, son of artist-writers Clayton Knight and Katharine Sturges, was educated at the Art Students League, where he studied with Reginald Marsh. Besides the Eloise books, Hilary Knight has illustrated more than fifty books for children, six of which he wrote himself.
He lives and works in New York City, not far from The Plaza Hotel.

Biography

Kay Thompson was already a character before she created one, spur of the moment, in the late '40s. The story varies, but goes something like this: Thompson -- a nightclub performer and composer -- showed up late to a rehearsal for a show she was appearing in. Her coach said, "Who do you think you are, coming here five minutes late?" Thompson put on a voice and responded, "I am Eloise, I am six." It was the beginning of a private joke among Thompson's circle, and the beginning of a children's classic.

Urged to write a book starring Eloise, Thompson began the project in earnest while "holed up at the Plaza" with illustrator Hilary Knight. The 1955 book was, as Life called it in 1957, "rampantly popular," with accompanying merchandise including dolls, children's clothing, and a record of a song coauthored and performed by Thompson ("Who is the little girl who knows everybody's business in New York?/I spend an enormous amount of time in the lobby. I have to see what's going on there./Who's on the telephone most of the day?/I have to call room service a lot and tell them to charge it, please and thank you very much.") The premise was irresistible: A precocious six-year-old living in the Plaza Hotel, making mischief, eventually traveling to Paris and Moscow? What's not to like?

Brimming with confidence, self-importance and a general disregard for rules, Eloise had to have been a refreshing anomaly among female characters in the '50s. Thompson, as headstrong and independent as her heroine, has been called a protofeminist. The cadence of Thompson's text was also unusual. Stringing together fragments and rhymes, Thompson's "Eloisiana" gives the six-year-old a grown-up twist, combining catchphrases such as "Charge it, please" and "For Lord's sake" with made-up words ("skibble," "slomp") and Eloise's appropriation of her nanny's accent and thrice-repeated words ("We've got to get out of this tub tub tub").

After an unfortunate 1956 television adaptation of Eloise, Thompson (who appeared as herself in the Playhouse 90 show) banned any further dramatic interpretations. She also felt that the sequels had done the original book a disservice, and allowed them to go out of print, earning a reputation for being capricious and difficult. When Thompson died in 1998, the character had a revival. Thompson's sister authorized rereleases of the Eloise sequels and a special edition of the original book, which was shepherded by illustrator Knight. In 2002, Simon & Schuster released the final Thompson-Knight collaboration, Eloise Takes a Bawth.

Good To Know

Thompson got into a scrape with Donald Trump when he took over ownership of the Plaza hotel and denied her the free rrom she had enjoyed for years. According to the Eloise web site, this transgression resulted in her refusal to allow Eloise's use for any kind of Plaza marketing.

Despite Thompson's preference, another attempt will be made to bring Eloise to life: ABC has two Eloise movies in the works. Eloise is slated for May 2003, and Eloise at Christmastime follows in December 2003.

Thompson was a vocal arranger and composer who worked on several films in the '40s and '50s, including Weekend at the Waldorf, Ziegfeld Follies, and Funny Face, which she also acted in alongside Audrey Hepburn in 1957.

Thompson coached Judy Garland during her Hollywood days; according to a 1996 article in Vanity Fair, she became a close friend of Garland's who often traveled with her and children Liza and Lorna.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Catherine Louise Fink (birth name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 9, 1909
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Louis, Missouri
    1. Date of Death:
      July 2, 1998
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2007

    Wasted on the young - a gem of a history book for older children

    My 9 year old daughter borrowed this from the library just for fun and I just bought a copy to keep because it is a fantastic visual history book about Cold War Moscow. Eloise deals with long lines for things in short supply, paranoid reactions for people, difficulty getting to see certain sights, and few meal options. She has a spy chase her through bitter cold, sees splendid public places like the subway and the opera and also sees them contrasted to relatively shabby residences. My daughter laughed at a lot of funny pictures and was stimulated to ask questions like 'how long did this last and what made it end?' So we read a little on how the Communist Party got established and how it fell. We looked at the pictures of the lines and I very simply introduced the idea of a control market v.s. a demand market. A fun and flexible teaching tool.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2002

    Some things never change

    I read Eloise in Moscow in October 2002, 3 months after I returned to the U.S. after spending 2 years in Russia. What was true in 1959 is still true today! The only difference is that Stalin is no longer Lenin's "roommate." This book made me laugh out loud!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2001

    Cold War fun with Eloise

    Eloise has an unique adventure in Cold War Moscow. As in her adventures in Paris and New York, Eloise has a grand time being mischevious and naughty. If you like Eloise you will like this book. Kids will like it, especially the spy that is trailing Eloise. Make a game of finding the spy in each illustration. Be surprised at why the spy is following her when you reach the end. If you expect Eloise to be anything other than her naughty little self you will be disappointed. She is a child living in a time before everything, including kids' books, had to be politically correct. She has fun, is head strong, impulsive, curious, and mischevious in ways that we often only allow boys to be. To paraphrase the song, 'Thank heaven for little Eloise!'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2001

    Eloise, the Cold Warrior

    The decision to send Eloise to Moscow in winter during the Cold War is the fundamental weakness of this book. The execution is weak within that story format, and the book falls flat as a result. This book is the only one of the Eloise books that feels very dated. It is more of an anti-communist commentary than a story about Eloise. Moscow during the winter in the Cold War wasn't exactly the place where you can expect Eloise to have lots of fun, get great room service and enjoy terrific shopping, which limits the potential for standard Eloise activities. The book details many stereotypes about Cold War Russia that will seem confusing to those who are under 40. If you are a hard core Eloise fan, read this one and enjoy the contrasts. If you are not so dedicated, you may want to skip this book. The story has a 'downer,' cricial tone to it that usually overwhelms the potential humor. When Eloise arrives in the hotel, she finds 'they were not absolutely glad to see us' 'Here's what there is absolutely none of is Moscow Privacy' 'It was colder inside than out [and it was ten below zero centigrade outside]' This comes across to me more like kvetching than humor. The running joke in this book is the surveillance on Eloise and Nanny. Someone follows them everywhere. Their room is bugged. People keep checking on them. But it's not really very funny. There is difficulty in presenting the ultrarich person's view of Russia here. Eloise's grandmother sends a Rolls on a rail car for Eloise to travel in. Eloise gets special privileges at the U.S. Embasssy because her mother knows the ambassador. But Eloise cannot charge anything anywhere. The food gets to be boring, even the caviar which Eloise enjoys, because there is little variety. She develops a fondness for champagne (at six?) and champagne corks. This beverage choice seemed to me to be more than a little inappropriate. The best part of the story to me was when Eloise puts on her disguise to take her nightly perambulation through the hotel. One of the nice touches in the book is to tie in pigeons, as so many of the books do. I also liked the fold-out drawing of the Kremlin. The part I liked least was a very long section of satire on a tour guide who doesn't guide them where they want to go very well. They see endless tombs, uninteresting outsides of buildings, statues, and places where they cannot go because they are under construction or tickets are unavailable. Editors need to intervene in such circumstances. After you have finished reading and thinking about this book, I suggest you consider how much our experiences are colored by our expectations. The next time you expect something to be drab and uninteresting . . . why not assume the best instead? You may find that your experience will change as a result. Nyet to this book! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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