The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin 80 pp RL2
The Hundred Dresses tells the story of Polish immigrant, Wanda Petronski who wears the same faded but clean dress to school every day and is made fun of when she tells her classmates that she has one hundred dresses in her closet at home. When the winners of the class drawing contest are announced, the children learn that Wanda really did have one hundred dresses - one hundred drawings of dresses - and that she has won the competition. However, she cannot collect her medal because her family has moved to the big city. Mr Petronski sends a note to Miss Mason, the teacher, telling her that in the big city, "No more holler Polack. No more ask why funny name. Plenty of funny names in big city."
Although Wanda is the center of the story, what makes this book work is the fact that it is told through the eyes of Maddie, a conscientious classmate of Wanda's who goes along with the teasing, initiated and driven by her friend Peggy. The thoughtfulness and realizations that Maddie has as the story progresses are simple but powerful. And the ending wraps up the story in a bittersweet but satisfying way.