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The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
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The Hundred Dresses (original 1944; edition 2004)

by Eleanor Estes, Louis Slobodkin (Illustrator)

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3,011871,897 (4)75
Member:MBels
Title:The Hundred Dresses
Authors:Eleanor Estes
Other authors:Louis Slobodkin (Illustrator)
Info:Sandpiper (2004), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 96 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (1944)

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A polish girl is made fun of at school for wearing the same faded blue dress each day. Wanda claims to have one hundred dresses at home, but no one believes her. This story is about bullies, taking a stand, and friendship.
  Jennifer LeGault | Sep 27, 2016 |
Originally published in 1944 and chosen as a Newbery Honor Book in 1945, this slim children's novel - only eighty pages - follows the story of Maddie, a young Connecticut schoolgirl who realizes, too late, that she has been unkind to one of her fellow pupils. Led by Peggy, Maddie's best friend and the most popular girl in school, the students ridicule new girl Wanda Petronski, whose 'odd' name, foreign accent, and poverty make her a target. Most of all, though, the girls ridicule for her claim - clearly false - that she possess one hundred beautiful dresses. It is only when Wanda wins the class drawing contest, for her one hundred pictures of various beautiful dresses, that Maddie and Peggy realize what Wanda was talking about. Unfortunately, Wanda's family has left town, seeking a more tolerant home in the big city, where their differences will cause less comment. Will Maddie ever be able to atone for her participation in the bullying of Wanda, and if not, how will she cope with her regret...?

A sweet story, one which is, according the the foreword written by the author's daughter, Helena Estes, based upon an episode from Eleanor Estes' own childhood, The Hundred Dresses offers a poignant examination of schoolyard bullying and belonging, of immigration and intolerance, and of the regret that comes with realizing the hurt caused by one's own wrongdoing too late to really atone. Wanda is misunderstood by her peers, and her desire to join the group, to share their love of beautiful dresses, leads her to try to share a private part of her life - the drawings which must have been a great comfort to her in her drab home in poverty-stricken Boggins Heights - only to meet with disbelief and ridicule. I found myself moved by the story here, but not quite as much as I expected to be, given its longstanding popularity, and its theme. Somehow I thought I would be close to crying, as I was reading Jacqueline Woodson's recent picture-book, Each Kindness, which covers much of the same territory as Estes' book. But while I enjoyed the story, appreciated the message, and found the artwork by Louis Slobodkin - winner of the 1944 Caldecott Medal for James Thurber's Many Moons - appealing, I wasn't as moved emotionally as I thought I would be. Still, this is a classic for a reason, and I do recommend it to anyone looking for children's stories about bullying, immigrants, prejudice, and living with regret. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jul 2, 2016 |
Wanda Petronski hasn't been to school in a few days, but no one has really noticed. After all, she's quiet and strange and even possibly delusional (how could she even think that anyone would believe she has 100 dresses in her closet when she only ever wears the same one). But gradually it dawns on everyone that Wanda and her family are gone. The Hundred Dresses tells the story of what happens next. How gradually the girls realize how wrongly they judged Wanda and about how sometimes there are things you can never take back. It's a story that is just as relevant now as it was in the 1940s.

What is really remarkable about the book though is just how well it's aged. I first read the book in a Dallas elementary school in the 1990s, and since there aren't a lot of Poles there was unfamiliar with anti-Polish xenophobia, but Wanda's father's letter about how in the city "no one holler Pollack" has stuck with me these 20+ years long after I forgot the rest of the book. It's an honest explanation of how peer pressure and bullying happen and deserves a place on every child's bookshelf (although girls will probably appreciate it more than boys). Highly, highly recommended. ( )
  inge87 | Jun 14, 2016 |
At first skim this seems like a didactic little moralizer. But there's something magical about it, something I can't put my finger on that makes it eminently readable, even enjoyable. Maybe it's partly because the 'mean' girls aren't actually cruel and have some lessons to learn about their inner hearts that are deeper than just 'don't tease.' I dunno what to say - you and I both should read the other reviews.

ETA - just did, and found that this is inspired by a true story, which is probably what makes it so authentic and resonant. See: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/409986277 ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Everyone should The Hundred Dresses! ( )
  ChelseaClaudett | Mar 8, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eleanor Estesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alemagna, BeatriceIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Estes, HelenaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slobodkin, LouisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Today, Monday, Wanda Petronski was not in her seat.
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She stood by silently, and that was just as bad as what Peggy had done.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0152052607, Paperback)

Wanda Petronski lives way up in shabby Boggins Heights, and she doesn't have any friends. Every day she wears a faded blue dress, which wouldn't be too much of a problem if she didn't tell her schoolmates that she had a hundred dresses at home--all silk, all colors, and velvet, too. This lie--albeit understandable in light of her dress-obsessed circle--precipitates peals of laughter from her peers, and she never hears the end of it. One day, after Wanda has been absent from school for a few days, the teacher receives a note from Wanda's father, a Polish immigrant: "Dear teacher: My Wanda will not come to your school any more. Jake also. Now we move away to big city. No more holler Polack. No more ask why funny name. Plenty of funny names in the big city. Yours truly, Jan Petronski."

Maddie, a girl who had stood by while Wanda was taunted about her dresses, feels sick inside: "True, she had not enjoyed listening to Peggy ask Wanda how many dresses she had in her closet, but she had said nothing.... She was a coward.... She had helped to make someone so unhappy that she had had to move away from town." Repentant, Maddie and her friend Peggy head up to Boggins Heights to see if the Petronskis are still there. When they discover the house is empty, Maddie despairs: "Nothing would ever seem good to her again, because just when she was about to enjoy something--like going for a hike with Peggy to look for bayberries or sliding down Barley Hill--she'd bump right smack into the thought that she had made Wanda Petronski move away." Ouch. This gentle Newbery Honor Book convincingly captures the deeply felt moral dilemmas of childhood, equally poignant for the teased or the tormentor. Louis Slobodkin, illustrator of the 1944 Caldecott Medalist Many Moons, brings his wispy, evocative, color-washed sketches to Eleanor Estes's time-proven classic about kindness, compassion, and standing up for what's right. (Ages 6 and older) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In winning a medal she is no longer there to receive, a tight-lipped little Polish girl teaches her classmates a lesson. Includes a note from the author's daughter, Helena Estes.

(summary from another edition)

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