Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Hundred Dresses

Have you read the book, The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes? I have a very well worn copy that was my mother's when she was young. This Newbery Honor award winning book had a profound effect upon me, and I think that it helped me become a better person in so many ways.

From Amazon.com

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)This year I embark on my One Hundred Dresses project. It will have two very different sides to it. I am going to create 100 dresses ( you'll see -- not as decadent as it sounds) and number each one. I am also going to work with my kindergarten class to embrace friendship, acceptance, empathy and to understand the effects of peer pressure, prejudice, bullying, and the consequences of standing by and doing nothing (the class is actually a bit young for the book -- it may be too long-- but we will be reading many other books dealing with the same subjects. Part One you'll see on this blog, if you want to read about part Two, you'll have to visit my other blog -- Ms. Brown's Classroom.

8 comments:

Joanne Huffman said...

I didn't know about this book and may have to go find it.

Leslie Jane Moran said...

Oh Martha! I LOVE this. Going to get this one for sure. Thank you.

Maija said...

You are a great teacher Martha!

Pilar said...

I have never heard of this book, but I am certainly going to invest in a copy for my wee niece's library. I applaud your efforts for teaching the wee ones such important lessons of tolerance, kindness and unity. These are lessons, sadly, which are not often addressed and taught to our youth. I can't wait to see your new project unfold! xoxoxo

Elizabeth said...

Oh I LOVE ELeanor Estes!!!!! I ahd not read this one however- will ahve to find it!!!! Your class is so very very lucky to have you!!!!!!

joanieponytail said...

I loved this book when our teacher read it to the whole class in fourth grade. Wonderful. Several years ago I found a copy and passed it on to my niece.
Wonderful story. I am looking forward to seeing how you do with your project.

Melinda Cornish said...

I love this book.....it is a beautiful story and i cant wait to see your 100 dresses...great idea!

tuscanycastlegirl said...

Hello....I just stumbled upon your blog because of your post about the Hundred dresses. I,to, am beginnng a project that connects to this book. Starting today, actually.
Have fun... !