Sunday, November 9, 2008
I've been reading Elizabeth the classic children's book "Eloise," which we checked out of the library. I didn't get two pages into this book when I had to stop and flip back to the front to check the publication date, because it was so very obviously not written any time recently. 1955. Yup, that's about right.
So Eloise is this precocious 6 year old who lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York. She pretty much has rip-roaring run of the place, and torments the guests and staff alike. The book tells of her adventures, such as calling room service and ordering beer for her nanny on Fight Night:
Here's Eloise's nanny, smoking a butt and drinking a brewski while watching TV with Eloise:
In 2008, the TV-watching alone would be enough to send the mommy blogosphere into an uproar.
We never do see Eloise's mother, but we learn a little about her
Eloise's mommy goes to Virginia with her martini-loving lawyer? No, this was most definitely not written in the aughts.
Of course, all this innuendo flew right over Elizabeth's head, but for me, it sure was a nice change from "Pinkalicious."
It's sort of like "Cinderella," which you probably remember well, even if you don't read it/watch it as much as I do these days. It doesn't take long to realize that Cinderella is not contemporary children's fiction. Much of the focus on the stepsisters in Cinderella is on the fact that they are not only mean, but ugly. And they have big feet. We just don't do that in 2008 -- we leave the "ugly" part out of it. These days, the mean girls are always hot, in a Shannen Doherty (who just can't help but look like a bitch) kind of way, rather than in that cute all-American Rachel Bilson or Katie Holmes (Dawson's Creek days, not post-Tom hookup days) kind of way. In my view, the fact that we no longer make fun of people's appearances in children's literature is a change for the better, but the fact that children's books no longer feature nannies who knock back a few pilsners while watching the big fight with their charges is not.