I remember being so excited to share Eloise with my little girls when they were old enough–until I read it again as an adult and realized she a little brattier than I had remembered. Not just me, right? Even so, I still have a certain nostalgia for the precocious title character who lived at the Plaza Hotel with no parents in sight, and clearly so did Mallory Kasdan, author of the brand new, hilariously wonderful Ella: A Cheeky Parody About a Little Girl Who Lives at The Local Hotel.
A Brooklyn mom herself, Kasdan perfectly captures what Eloise might be like if she was a racially ambiguous, sparkly Doc Maarten-wearing, pop culture-savvy six-year-old living in 2015 NYC. More specifically, in a hipster hotel that bears striking resemblance to The Chelsea Hotel. Or maybe The Smith?
Perfectly illustrated by Marcos Chin, whose work I’ve always admired, we get to know six-year-old Ella quite well. She spends her free time in the lobby checking on the WiFi situation, hanging out with bell captains Levi and Luis who wear white shirts and skinny jeans (she prefers pleather pants), taking advantage of the hotel’s “permissive pet policy,” and getting friendly fist-bumps from Maverick, the bouncer from the rooftop bar.
Instead of fur-clad elderly tourists, Ella rides the elevator of The Local Hotel with “a bunch of groupies and publicists and bloggers or something…usually staring at their phones.”
In case you’re wondering, Ella’s mother is out of town shooting movies. She knows Bono. But fear not, for Ella is not completely without adult supervision. Like Eloise, she has an attentive nanny. Unlike Eloise, she calls him Manny. He sports tattoo sleeves, makes espresso doppio, plays guitar and says things like, “My hair is an extension of my philosophy.” She also has a couple of American Girl dolls, who she pretends are twin Costa Rican orphans sisters running their own zip line business.
Sounds just like my kids!
(Actually, my daughter’s AG doll is pretty much locked into her wheelchair, but she knows her doll can do anything she sets her mind to if she really works hard for it.)
I don’t want to give away the rest of the fun, but Ella is a superb sendup, with pacing and a narrative that nicely mirrors the classic Eloise, while adding up to a very funny look at modern-day urban childhood all on its own. This one’s a keeper.
Preorder Ella: A Cheeky Parody About a Little Girl Who Lives at The Local Hotel by Mallory Kasdan and Marcos Chin at our affiliate Amazon, or your local indie bookseller. It ships Jan 22. You can learn more at EllaTheBook.com