Eloise in Moscow

Book review by
Jennifer Gennari, Common Sense Media
Eloise in Moscow Book Poster Image
Eloise is an international spy in this so-so book.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the plucky heroine from the Plaza Hotel is subdued in this Eloise book. Also, humor about the Soviet Union will puzzle children.

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What's the story?

Eloise and Nanny go to Moscow, and Eloise quickly learns nyet as she explores the hotel. They are never alone: A guide takes them on a tour of the city and shows them what \"is possible to see.\" They see the subway, the Kremlin, and the ballet. When they dine out they have caviar; by the end Eloise is \"rawther tired of it.\"

One night Eloise explores the hotel in disguise. She is sure someone is following them all the time. In the end, it turns out a spy has watched her to see if Eloise does anything that would have \"any international repercussions.\" Eloise answers, \"Nyet Definitely Nyet.\"

Is it any good?

Eloise, who is so often up to mischief, this time reports on all the mischief in Moscow. Kay Thompson has made Eloise an international spy rather than a troublemaker, and it's a change that disappoints, especially because the Soviet Union Eloise saw no longer exists. In Eloise's Moscow (a decade after World War II), everyone waits in line for everything, everyone is spied on, and the rich enjoy indulgences not available to the many. The only fun Eloise has -- and about the only page to get a giggle out of an 8-year-old -- is when Weenie the dog senses an intruder and they all frighten themselves. It's also fun seeing Eloise dress up in disguise to explore the hotel at night.

Most of the time, however, it's snowing hard and she's stuck seeing only the sights allowed by her government guide. With the guide constraining them, Eloise finds very little mischief to get into, but there is travelogue -- lots and lots of boring tour guide-speak. Parents unfamiliar with Russian pronunciation are likely to further slow down the narrative as they stumble over foreign phrases. Grown-ups who wish to recall the Cold War years will enjoy this book most. It's easy to understand why Thompson, during the last decades of her life, refused to let ELOISE IN MOSCOW remain in print.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about this series and what makes some of the other books better. Do you find Eloise less fun here? Why do you think that is?

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