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The Hundred Dresses PDF Print E-mail

What You Need to Know:
• The Hundred Dresses tackles bullying and discrimination in a straightforward manner.
• Although it was written more than 60 years ago, the topic is still very relevant today.
• While the reading level is Reader Junior, the message in this book is appropriate for any reading level.
• It was a Newbury Honor Book in 1944.
• This meaningful book has often been used in school lesson plans.
• Look for other award winning books by Eleanor Estes including The Moffats and Ginger Pye.
• An excellent read aloud, The Hundred Dresses is a perfect starting point for conversations on being a good friend
  and understanding differences in people.
Sweet Book Summary:
Maddie is distraught. She knows that she’s done something wrong but is it too late to fix things? It all starts with her best friend Peggy and a girl at school named Wanda Petronski. Wanda is a quiet girl who wears the same dress to school every day. She lives on the wrong side of town and has an unusual sounding name. One day, when a group of girls admire another girl’s new dress, Wanda speaks up. Until that moment, she had been invisible, standing in the group, but never a part of it. Now, with just a few words, claiming to have one hundred beautiful dresses in her own closet, she suddenly becomes the center of attention. Sadly, Peggy, the most popular girl, starts a game where they “politely” tease her about her “supposed” dresses. Maddie, Peggy’s best friend, goes along with the game, but wishes they would stop. She’s afraid to speak up, though, because she is poor also and is worried that she’ll be the next target if she says something. It isn’t until she sees the one hundred beautiful dresses that Wanda drew for a contest at school, that Maddie decides to take action and make things better. Unfortunately it is too late, as Wanda’s family has moved away to avoid the discrimination they had been facing in their current situation. Maddie does some serious thinking and concludes that standing and watching someone do something wrong is just as bad as doing it, and even more important, it is cowardly. In the end, she can't make things right with Wanda so, she writes to her at her old address and hopes it will be forwarded there. Whether or not Wanda receives the letter, she has made a lasting impression on Maddie and Peggy and hopefully on the reader as well.

The Hundred Dresses is based on a true story, as the author describes having witnessed a similar situation at her own elementary school. She wrote her account of the young girl's mistreatment, as Maddie wrote her letter, to try to make amends for what had happened. A book that continues to thrive and enlighten children, more than 60 years after it was first published, is quite an achievement. Maybe it still resonates because it was based on a true story and nothing beats reality. Perhaps it is because Estes’ straightforward writing style continues to appeal to kids today. The basic schoolyard conflicts that are the subject of The Hundred Dresses remain relevant today, although they are intensified by current technology. The characters and the problems that they face are easy to relate to and their conflict resolution process is easy to follow. The whole book follows one storyline and Estes does not include a lot of superfluous information. At the same time she makes very clear how the girls are feeling and what they are thinking. This simple story can, therefore, still be useful today in helping kids to learn how to better handle their own difficult situations. At the same time, it is a touching, beautiful story to read and simply enjoy. One point of note, there is no mention of the girls' ages and it is difficult to determine exactly what they are, possibly because it was written so long ago. There are also plenty of delicate illustrations that will engage readers throughout the book. Estes does not “dumb down” her writing so although this book can be read by younger readers, be aware that there may be some challenging words, like askew, precarious and disconsolate. Hopefully, young readers will learn more than a few new vocabulary words; hopefully they will come away with a greater understanding of friendship, compassion and how to treat other people.
Author: Eleanor Estes Illustrator: Louis Slobodkin Published: 1944, 80 pages
Themes: Award Winners, Bullying, Character/Values, Compassion/Empathy, Discrimination, Excellent Read-Aloud, Friendship, Good Book Club Selection, Books & Reading, Family Life, Friendship, Poverty, School
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• Why did Wanda claim that she had one hundred dresses? Was she trying to fit in?
• Is Peggy a bully? Does she realize that she’s hurting Wanda?
• Is Maddie a bully? Does she realize that she’s hurting Wanda?
• Could a situation like Wanda’s happen in the world today?
• How is bullying today different than it was when this story was written? How is it the same?
• Do bullies always know that they are being mean?
• What do you and your friends do to fit in?
• Will some kids allow themselves to be made fun of, just to be part of a group?
• Would you stick up for someone who was being bullied?
• Which of the characters, Wanda, Maddie or Peggy is most like you?
• Do you have any friends like Wanda, Maddie and Peggy?
• Why do some kids become bullies?
• Is it possible to speak politely and still be mean?
• If Wanda hadn’t moved away, could she have done anything else to stop the teasing?
• Would you rather stand out or blend into the crowd?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
The Moffats, Eleanor Estes
Pinky Pye, Eleanor Estes
Stand Up for Yourself, Patti Kelley Criswell
This recommendation was written by: Melissa G.
Support Independent Book Shops: Click Here to Buy this Book on IndieBound
Message spans many grade levels
6 Friday, 14 August 2015 08:54
Lynn Bland
This book is magical. When read aloud to third graders, children learn the message of fitting in, bullying, and forgiveness. When used in literacy discussion groups of fifth graders, they dig deeper into the text to bring out peer pressure, discrimination (here,the Polish) social class, etc. The list is practically endless. Every time I teach using this book I see something that I didn't think about before. This was a favorite book when I was a child and it grew up with me. Highly recommended for a variety of grades...
the book
5 Thursday, 12 February 2015 11:38
shambhavi satyal
i really like this book it is a fit book for grade 5 people
the hundred dresses
4 Friday, 12 September 2014 15:25
Cadence Campbell
I Love this book i read this yesterday in class i loved it i was the only one who read the whole book. it was so awesome and cool
Hundred Dresses
3 Monday, 21 October 2013 16:12
Mrs. Emmert & the Girls Book Club
Your questions lead our girls' book club discussion. Your questions were good. We talked about bullies and not being a by-stander. Our favorite part of the discussion was about which character was most like us. We loved this story! After reading the book, we each designed our own perfect dress & hung them in the library!
Good to hear from you!
2 Tuesday, 11 January 2011 18:02
Sweet on Books
Thanks for the comment - we agree that this book is very special and deserves a place on everyone's bookshelf.
rising above adversity
1 Sunday, 02 January 2011 02:59
reading grandma
It sounds like this book should be required reading! In a simple way, it teaches the concept of respecting the rights of others.

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