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At 50, Eloise is still one of the pluckiest 6-year-olds we know

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Eloise

At 50, Eloise is still one of the pluckiest 6-year-olds we know

TV

Eloise
(Starz Kids & Family, series premiere Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. EST)

It’s hard to believe that Eloise, a mere slip of girl who lives in New York City’s Plaza hotel, is now pushing 50. But it’s true. The character, based on the classic book series by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight, has been around a half a century, but in our hearts and minds, she’ll always be a precocious six-year-old whippersnapper. In this animated debut (which is also being released on the DVD Me, Eloise) our heroine finds that she’s no longer the hotel’s top cute kid when an eight-year-old Japanese violinist checks in. But of course, Eloise being Eloise, she finds a way to corrupt the studious, obedient Yuko, snatching her away from rehearsal to trawl the depths of the Plaza’s laundry room and talk about her impending birthday tea at the Palm Court.

Children love stories about rebels, and what could be better than watching Eloise upset the grownups (Nanny, voiced by Lynn Redgrave, and the hotel manager, by a droll Tim Curry) in her life? The only thing adults may notice is that it’s sad that Eloise’s ”glamorous” mom only appears as a voice on the phone from Paris, and the little girl’s birthday is celebrated by maids and doormen. Nevertheless, Eloise shows remarkable pluck, and you can’t help but wonder what trouble she’ll find herself in next. Children who’ve enjoyed the books will likewise enjoy seeing the characters come to life onscreen. B+Eileen Clarke

Recommended ages: 3-7

CD/DVD

Welcome to Ralph’s World
(Disney Sound)
For little music lovers who haven’t yet tuned in to the incredibly talented Ralph Covert (he won a Grammy nomination for his sixth effort, Green Gorilla, Monster & Me), this CD, a compilation of the best songs from previous albums, is a terrific primer. The Chicago-based rocker got his start giving music classes for kids, and playing his own songs, until one music-producer dad was smart enough to get Covert to record for him. Now Disney has its turn, adding something new for old fans — six music videos, the best of which is ”Surfin’ in My Imagination.” (You can also catch Covert’s action on Playhouse Disney.) But Covert hasn’t gone totally Hollywood yet: His website still lists not only the lyrics to all his tunes, but the guitar chords too, so you can have your own homemade singalong. Can’t get enough of Ralph and his expressive eyebrows? He’ll be touring along with other bands this year for Jamarama Live, the Lollapalooza for the sippy-cup set. B+EC
Recommended ages: 2-8

TOUR

Mickey’s Magic Show
(Check disneylive.com for additional dates)

If you’ve been wanting to introduce your kids to the ways of magic — but they’re two or three decades too young for Penn & Teller’s blend of profanity, atheism, and gore — you can find out if ”Mickey’s Magic Show,” Disney’s touring revue, is headed to your town. The show’s boundlessly cheerful lead illusionists, Brad Ross and Alex Gonzalez, appear barely old enough to audition for High School Musical 2, which may help them score with the tiny target demographic. Along with a retinue of familiar costumed characters, they trot out all the chestnuts, including levitation, card tricks, interlocking rings, and lovely lasses put in boxes and separated into parts… sans any traumatizing saws, of course.

Older kids — not to mention parents — may find their attention span doing a disappearing act during this overly canned show. But if you have young daughters and don’t live near a Disney theme park, brief musical appearances by Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White may give ’em enough of a short-term live-action princess fix that you can put off that next trip a little longer. Plus, here, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald actually blink. Curing 80-year-old cases of dry-eye syndrome? That’s some serious magic. BChris Willman

Recommended ages: 3-9

BOOKS

My Little Yellow Taxi
by Stephen T. Johnson
At first I thought, Oh, a new pop-up book! But it isn’t: In its own way, My Little Yellow Taxi is better than a pop-up book, since it’s sturdier, with heavy board pages, and more useable. First, you lift the hood to inspect the realistic motor and check the oil. Then, after checking the tires, you open the taxi’s solid yellow door, stow the snacks in the glove compartment, and actually buckle the seat belt. There’s more: windshield wipers work, the taxi’s ”on duty” lights come on, the rearview mirror flips up and down — all with parts big enough, and durable enough, for little fingers (though there are a couple of pieces that can get lost, like the key, which neatly fits into the ignition). My four-and-a-half-year-old neighbor played with the book for over an hour, completely entranced, before his mother pried him away for dinner. ATina Jordan
Recommended ages: 4 and up (there are some small parts)

Bunny my Honey
Written and illustrated by Anita Jeram
This is the paperback edition of a much-loved book, the tale of a small rabbit who had ”long ears, a twitchy nose, and great big feet.” Mommy Rabbit calls him, tenderly, ”Bunny, my honey,” and, like all mommies, she loves him and nurtures him. But one day the little bunny is separated from his mother, and for a few terrifying moments, he cannot find her anywhere. ”Bunny started to cry. ‘Mommy, Mommy, I want my mommy!”’ Of course, the two are soon reunited, and Bunny’s fears are all quelled. Jeram is a lovely writer, and you may remember her illustrations from the classic Guess How Much I Love You. ATJ
Recommended ages: 2 and up

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