Home » Book Review » The Hundred Dresses

The Hundred Dresses



by Eleanor Estes

Published 1944

Okay, I know I say this all the time, but I’m super serious this time:  EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK.

It is short, simple, and an easy read (it took me less than twenty minutes to read it).  And yet it manages to truly look at the problem of bullying and prejudice in a way that is brilliantly insightful, and, in the end, deeply beautiful.  And on top of all of that – the writing is gorgeous.  Not only should you read this book (tonight, if possible), you should buy copies of it and give it to every child you know.  Because so often children are mean not because they are mean, but because they are ignorant.

This is a story about three little girls.  Wanda is poor and awkward.  Peggy is well-off and popular.  Maddie is poorer than Peggy, but is Peggy’s best friend.  All three of these girls are nice, generally kind girls, yet Peggy begins a game of mocking Wanda, a game that Maddie isn’t comfortable with, but doesn’t know how to stop.

How had the hundred dresses game begun in the first place, she asked herself …  Oh, yes.  She remembered.  It had begun that day when Cecile first wore her new red dress …

It was a bright blue day in September.  No, it must have been October, because when she and Peggy were coming to school, arms around each other and singing, Peggy had said, “You know what?  This must be the king of day they mean when they say, ‘October’s bright blue weather.’ ”

Maddie remembered that because afterwards it didn’t seem like bright blue weather any more, although the weather had not changed in the slightest.

Seriously.  Find this book and read it.  It’s less than 80 pages long and has lots of pictures, but the simplicity of this story is precisely what makes it so timeless and so important.

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