The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes has got to be one of my favorite children's books of all time and
a book that has impacted my life for the better.
It's a story about a little girl - Wanda Petronski who is awkward and poor and wears the same dress every day to school. The girl's at school tease her because of her story that she has a hundred dresses in her closet, all lined up in a row. Two of the girls in the class are Peggy and Maddie. Peggy is pretty and popular and loves to tease Wanda every day about her dresses. Maddie is quiet, poor herself, and wants Peggy to stay her friend. While Maddie doesn't out and out tease Wanda, she doesn't stick up for her either. The teasing continues so much that eventually Wanda's family moves away from the town. The story tells about how these girl's begin to realize their mistake and decide to change. I love this paragraph at the end of the story when Maddie finally realizes what she needs to do:
"At last Maddie sat up in bed and pressed her forehead tight in her hands and really thought. This was the hardest thinking she had ever done. After a long, long time she reached an important conclusion. She was never going to stand by and say nothing again. If she ever heard anybody picking on someone because they were funny looking or because they had strange names, she'd speak up. Even if it meant losing Peggy's friendship. She had no way of making things right with Wanda, but from now on she would never make anybody else so unhappy again."
I love what one little girl wrote to the author about the book (quoted in the Letter by Helena Estes) and I think this really states well the reason this book is so touching: "Seeing people for themselves, from the inside, is one lesson I learned from Wanda. She forgave both Peggy and Maddie, even though she had to put up with them every day."
hat a wonderful, timeless message this book teaches about having compassion and understanding for others. And even though we may not perpetrate the wrong, it's just as wrong to stand idly by letting it happen. I hope you enjoy reading this book with your family as much as we have! And have a wonderful weekend!