Summer Reading
June 6, 2016
Candace Hardy (22 articles)
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Summer Reading

This sweet little book, first published in 1944 and re-copyrighted in 1972 is amazingly timely, dealing with exclusion and verbal bullying.

THE HUNDRED DRESSES by Eleanor Estes Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin.

Nobody has ever heard a name like Wanda or a funny last name like Petronski. When Wanda is asked why she wears the same blue dress day after day she declares she has a closet full of dresses. One hundred to be exact, all lined up.

Of course, it stands to reason especially for best friends Peggy and Maddie, that such a thing isn’t possible. So daily they wait for her to “have a little fun” with her, at her expense. And every day she declares the same thing, “A hundred, all lined up, all colors, all silk.”

From her seat in the back of the classroom where the slowest and worst behaved students sat, though she was neither, she was pretty forgettable, that is until she is confronted on the way to school or in the school yard where the same question is asked day after day.

Then one day, she isn’t there, nor again the following day. Peggy who is well off, and toe dances, seems oblivious to the pain they might be causing Wanda; but Maddie, who is poor has a tug at her conscience, and wonders if perhaps the taunts might one day be turned on her.

 

In the midst of a class contest, where the girls are asked to design dresses, the class receives a letter from Wanda’s father. He shares with them that they will be moving to the city where no one will make fun of their name because there are plenty of funny names.

Heartsick Maddie is determined to find Wanda and make amends but a trip to her house in the scarier part of town proves unsuccessful. The class gets a huge surprise from the little girl in the blue dress who didn’t seem to matter.

This is an easy read for the early mid-grade reader. Limited vocabulary but I found it to be a page turner with a satisfying ending for the younger reader.

Spot illos are simple, done in soft graphite, just enough to enhance the text.

Candace Hardy