The Hundred Dresses

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The Hundred Dresses
The Hundred Dresses.jpg
Cover with original design (post-1970, with "Newbery Honor" seal)
AuthorEleanor Estes
IllustratorLouis Slobodkin
Cover artistSlobodkin
GenreChildren's literature, realistic fiction
PublisherHarcourt, Brace[1]
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover)

The Hundred Dresses is a children's book by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. In the book, a Polish girl named Wanda Petronski attends a Connecticut school where the other children see her as "different" and mock her.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

The book centers on Wanda, a poor and friendless Polish-American girl. Although her grades are very good, she sits in the worst seat in the classroom and does not say anything when her schoolmates tease her. One day, after Wanda's classmates laugh at her funny last name and the faded blue dress she wears to school every day, Wanda claims to own one hundred dresses, all lined up in her closet in her worn-down house. This outrageous and obvious lie becomes a game, and the group of girls in her class, headed by Maddie and Peggy, mock and corner her every day before school demanding that she describe all of her dresses for them. Her father, Jan Petronski, reveals that due to the constant discrimination directed at his family they must leave town.

The teacher holds a drawing contest in which the girls are to draw dresses of their own design. Wanda enters and submits one hundred beautiful designs. Her classmates are in awe of her talent and realize that these were her hundred dresses. The students who teased her feel remorse and want her to know this, but they are not sure how. They decide to write her a kind letter and send it to her old address, hoping the post office can forward it. Unfortunately, she has already moved away and does not realize she won the contest.[4]

Nevertheless, Wanda's lovely nature and kind heart are revealed later when she tells the teacher to give the students the drawings.


It was a 1945 Newbery Honor book.[5] A 2004 study found that it was a common read-aloud book for third-graders in schools in San Diego County, California.[6] Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association listed the book as one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children."[7]


  1. ^ a b "The Hundred Dresses" [1944]. LC Online Catalog. Library of Congress. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  2. ^ "The Hundred Dresses" (starred review). Kirkus Reviews. Contemporary; undated online, with later ISBN. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
      "This is off the track for the creator of The Moffats [also illus. by Slobodkin], but it is a story that might well be told to all generations."
  3. ^ The Hundred Dresses Summary.
  4. ^ Kathleen T. Horning, Association for Library Service to Children, The Newbery & Caldecott Awards: A Guide to the Medal and Honor Books, Chicago: American Library Association, 2009, ISBN 9780838997178, p. 68.
  5. ^ American Library Association. "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present". Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  6. ^ Fisher, Douglas et al. (2004). "Interactive Read-Alouds: Is There a Common Set of Implementation Practices?" (PDF). The Reading Teacher. 58 (1): 8–17. doi:10.1598/RT.58.1.1. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 7, 2013. Retrieved August 22, 2012.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved August 22, 2012.

External links[edit]

The Hundred Dresses at