One of my critique partners, Megan Bickel, is hosting the “My Favorite Picture Book” blogfest today. When I signed up, I worried that choosing only one would be an impossible task, so I was surprised to find that the choice came quickly to mind. Drumroll please…
My favorite picture book is Eloise, by Kay Thompson. I think this choice surprised even me, given my love of Dr. Seuss and all things rhyming, but when I thought back on books that impacted me as a child, I had to go with Eloise. For one thing, it was one of the few books I actually owned. For another, the story and the pictures are so rich, I could spend hours poring over this book. I grew up in a small town in Northern Michigan. At the time I was reading Eloise, I had never even stayed in a hotel, much less lived in one. So the book was probably my first exposure to a way of life completely different from my own (never mind that it was different from almost everyone else’s too). Today, my love of Eloise is only magnified by the knowledge that this book, if submitted today, would probably not be published. I give both cultural and writerly reasons below, but first, let’s celebrate Eloise, the girl.
Why Eloise is awesome
- She is whip smart and self-reliant
- She’s her own person and unapologetic about it
- She has a sense of wonder about every small thing around her
- She has a wild imagination and loves to pretend
- She is cunning
- She refuses to get bored. Why would you get bored when you can comb your hair with a fork, wear your arm in a sling or put a rubber band on the end of your nose?
- She’s a real kid. Despite her obvious wealth and unconventional lifestyle, every child from every background can relate to her. My favorite scene in the book is when she copies everything her tutor says and does until he is driven to insanity. Why do all kids do this?? My son is in this phase right now, and my daughter went through it too. I know I tormented my own mother likewise. I suspect that two millenia from now, somewhere in the world a parent and child will be having this conversation: “Time for dinner.” “Time for dinner.” “Please don’t do that.” “Please don’t do that.” “I mean it.” “I mean it.” “That’s not funny.” “That’s not funny.” And on and on til the end of time…
- She is mischievous but also loving and lovable
- My GAWD, the grown-ups smoke, drink and gamble
- A six year-old runs around a hotel without any adult supervision
- Absentee parents
- Lord, but they say Lord a lot in this book
- Little girl commits vandalism in a public space
- Doesn’t anyone discipline this girl?
Why Eloise couldn’t get published today: Writerly Reasons
- Opening lines = “I am Eloise. I am six.” Probably wouldn’t fly today.
- Holy word count Batman! At 3000+ words, it probably wouldn’t get past the query stage
- Tri-color pencil drawings. While they are so detailed and so gorgeous, they probably wouldn’t be flashy enough for today’s market.
So I’m glad it got published when it did, so that generations of children can come to know Eloise – a true original.
So, what is YOUR favorite picture book? Do you agree or disagree that Eloise probably wouldn’t get published today?
Categories: Authors, Childhood, Children's Books, Picture Books · Tags: Blogfest, Children's Books, Eloise, My favorite picture book, Picture Books