Parents' Guide to

Eloise in Moscow

By Jennifer Gennari, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Eloise is an international spy in this so-so book.

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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.

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