Home School Book Review, September 5, 2012 (view all comments by Home School Book Review)
Madeline (Maddie) is in Miss Mason’s Room 13 at school, along with her best friend, Peggy, who is the most popular girl in school. Another girl in class is Wanda Petronski, who lives in Boggins Heights, the “bad section” of town, is very quiet, and seems to have difficulty reading. Wanda wears the same faded blue dress that doesn’t hang right to school every day. Once when someone asked her if that was the only dress she had, she replied that she had a hundred dresses hanging in her closet. After that, Peggy began teasing her by asking her every day how many dresses she had, and even Maddie, while she somehow feels uncomfortable about it, joins in the teasing. They’re really not intending to be mean or cruel.
Then one day Wanda isn’t in school. Peggy and Maddie have waited outside to tease her again, and when she doesn’t come they are a little late. In fact, Wanda is missing for several days. However, a picture that she has drawn for the school’s coloring contest wins a medal. Maddie and Peggy even climb up the hill to the Petronski house in Boggins Heights on a cold, rainy day to see if Wanda is there. Were there really a hundred dresses? How does Maddie feel when the class receives a letter telling them that Wanda, her father, and her brother Jake have moved from their house in Boggins Heights to another city where there will be no more teasing about their funny name. And what can Maddie do to assuage her feelings of guilt?
The author’s daughter says that during World War I her mother went to elementary school with a poor classmate who was taunted because she wore the same dress to school every day and her Polish name was unusual. The little girl moved away to New York City in the middle of the school year, and Eleanor Estes never had the opportunity to tell her that she was sorry. Helena Estes writes, “Was the character Maddie based on my mother? Probably.” This tender and touching story, which won a Newbery Honor Award in 1945, teaches children some very important lessons. Some might tend to focus on the negatives of bullying, racism, and ethnic stereotypes, but the real value of the book is in illustrating the meaning of kindness, generosity, compassion, and understanding. I highly recommend it.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
virgasind, December 18, 2006 (view all comments by virgasind)
As an 80 year old Grandpa to seven and Great Grand Dad to nine I feel qualified to write that "Hundred Dresses" by Eleanor Estes is a wonderful book for ALL ages and gender. The story line has much appeal and the great surprise ending is a lessen that everyone will enjoy....and wonderful gift for all ages...even for my Daughter (in Portland) at 52 and two of my 30 year old Grand Daughters. Virgil of Minneapolis
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (6 of 12 readers found this comment helpful)
A restored edition of a classic, award-winning book about prejudice and understanding.
Wanda Petronski, a little Polish girl in an American school, is laughed at because she always wears a faded blue dress, until her classmates learn a lesson.
Wanda Petronski, a little Polish girl in an American school, is laughed at because she always wears a faded blue dress, until her classmates learn a lesson. “Sensitive, intuitive, restrained.”--Saturday Review
Never out of print since its 1944 publication, this tender story offers readers of all ages a timeless message of compassion and understanding. At its heart is Wanda Petronski, an immigrant girl in an American school, who is ridiculed for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. When she tells her classmates that she has one hundred dresses at home, she unwittingly triggers a game of teasing that eventually ends in a lesson for all.
In restoring the reproduction of Louis Slobodkin's artwork, this new edition recaptures the original vivid color. And to celebrate the book's enhanced beauty, Helena Estes, the daughter of the author, has written a new letter to readers about the true story behind The Hundred Dresses.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.