By Noelle, Librarian Extraordinaire
My parents, my 7 year old daughter and I all recently decided to tackle New York during the Christmas season to see all the magic of the holidays in midtown. Of course, I used to live in New York and had conveniently forgotten how completely insane it is in midtown during the holidays and that I used to avoid it like the plague. Ah, memory loss is a terrible thing!
But after emerging from the overwhelming experience of FAO Schwarz, we found ourselves across the street from the Plaza Hotel. For those of you with little girls, or perhaps you may recall from reading a childhood picture book, the infamous character of Eloise made her home at the Plaza. The Eloise books are by Kay Thompson, and the first one was published in 1955 about the often well-meaning but spoiled and wayward young girl. We had both read the books and seen at least one of the Eloise movies, so we decided to take a break from the stores and walk through the hotel.
The Plaza is Full of Surprises!
We strolled through the elegant lobby and by the restaurant and when we arrived at the door facing the park, we saw a staircase going down to shops. Shops? At the Plaza? We had no idea they even existed, so we decided to check them out. Fancy schmancy shops they were, with red carpets and piano players plunking out Christmas music. As we popped into a quite fancy hat shop, my mother mentioned to the woman at the desk that we had come to see the hotel where Eloise lived. “Oh, follow the red carpet and you’ll see the sign,” said the helpful shopgirl.
Hmmm…we followed the red carpet and voila! There was a big Eloise sign and better, an entire store!
Eloise-Land, Right in the Heart of New York City!
Now, even if you haven’t read the books or seen the very cute movies, you better bring your daughter to this store. It was a little corner of Happy Girl Land. Yes, you could purchase all things Eloise. But one room had an entire corner filled with dress up clothes and full length mirrors to pose in front of. Another room was adorned with bean bag chairs and a large screen television showing one of the aforementioned Eloise films. My father gratefully creaked onto one of those and waited for us girls to finish having fun. Yet another room had nothing but kid-sized tables and chairs, set up for a tea party. Our table even featured an Eloise doll for us to drink tea with (no, there wasn’t really any tea. But who needs real tea when you have an imagination?).
When we finally emerged from the store, I was amazed that not only had I been unaware of its existence, but how wonderful an experience it was to visit it. And we even managed to leave without buying one Eloise item.
Is Your Girl An American Girl?
One of other stops in New York was a place that didn’t exist when I lived there: the American Girl Store. Now, some of you may be aware of the American Girl series of books, each set in the series focusing on a girl in a particular time period of American history. For instance, Josefina is a girl of Mexican descent living in New Mexico in 1824. These short historical fiction chapter books get eaten up by young girls, and the series has expanded to include mysteries and modern day girls.
Now as you might guess, they had created dolls based on these books. But what you may not know is now you can get your “own” American girl doll—one that looks like your daughter! That was our goal when we went to the American Girl store.
Your Mini-Me Awaits!
After waiting in the fast-moving line outside (I know! A line to get into a store! Ridiculous!) of little girls clutching their precious dolls, we made it into the store. Ai yi yi! In glass cases all around were the many many dolls, with skin types and hair colors of all kinds and styles. As we browsed the dolls, my eyes were drawn to their “accessories,” such as pets, wheelchairs, clothing and more! The point of getting your doll is to basically create a mini-me that can dress like your child and even imitate her up to wearing a cast if your daughter broke an arm, glasses if your daughter is near-sighted, and on and on. Is this strange and eerie? Yes, yes, it is.
Now if this isn’t enough to create a doppelganger of your child, you can also bring both your daughter and doll to lunch, brunch, tea or dinner upstairs at the store. Making reservations is strongly advised for each seating. You get to pay a hefty price for what is basically a kids’ meal with a few “courses.” To check out the sample menu in New York, try this link. But her doll will get her very own high chair to sit at the table as well to watch you enjoy your food. You can also arrange to have a birthday party for your child, her friends, and all their dolls. And did I forget to mention the Doll Hair Studio? Or the Photo Studio? Oops.
Escape Comes at a Price
While we did manage to leave the store without eating at the restaurant, we weren’t so lucky with the doll. Grandma was implored to purchase a mini-me for my daughter, and after finding the one who looked the most like her (down to the exact shade of hair) and forking over the ridiculous sum of $95, we finally were able to depart. But since my daughter profusely thanked grandma multiple times, it may have been worthwhile. Well, until we have to buy some accessories, anyway.
So if you head to New York any time soon with a young girl in tow, make sure you hit the Plaza and the Eloise store and the American Girl store. Your little one will love you for it. Just be sure to be armed with either your wallet or a very stiff resolve.
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|Noelle has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years. She’s also been a student teacher, worked as an online account manager, worked in a pet shop and as a supermarket checkout clerk, and as a dishwasher and fry cook. She is the proud mom of a beautiful daughter. You can read more of Noelle’s book reviews at Rave Reviews Log
Noelle can be reached at “Noelle @ DadDoes.Com”