The Hundred Dresses

I love the library.  Here in Virginia Beach, there are several locations, many different programs available for all ages, and just about any book you can imagine (including a focus on local authors, out of print books, and rare finds at the central location). I go at least once a week – and when I stop by, I usually have a stack of books on hold to pick up.  A few weeks back I had requested a book called The Hundred Dresses.  I guess I didn’t know that there were two books with this same title.  So, when I went to the library to pick my books up for the week, both of these books were waiting for me.  These two books share the same name, yet they are completely different.

9780152052607_p0_v2_s114x166The Hundred Dresses, written by Eleanor Estes, was first published in 1944.  This is a timeless book, a story of a young girl who is teased mercilessly by her classmates.  Estes won the Newbury Medal for this work of hers in 1945, and this book continues to be popular with young readers.  Wanda Petronski is the main character, and title refers to an answer she gives her female classmates, those who taunt her about wearing the same dress every day.

“A hundred dresses!  Obviously the only dress Wanda had was the blue one she wore every day.  So what did she say she had a hundred for?  What a story!  And the girls laughed derisively, while Wanda moved over to the sunny place by the ivy-covered brick wall of the school building where she usually stood and  waited for the bell to ring.” – 14

9781608199761_p0_v3_s260x420This book has a strong anti-bullying message that could still benefit young readers today.  I was touched by the ending, and it’s no surprise why this book is still popular.  Another book with that same name, The Hundred Dresses, was released earlier this year.  Erin McKean, the book’s author, is also the well-known blogger behind A Dress A Day.  Similar to her blog’s premise, the topic of her book is the history of fashion, with some of the most iconic dresses featured in the book.

In the introduction of her book, she mentions having read the original Hundred Dresses, and that she had always wondered what having one hundred dresses would be like.  Imagine the possibilities!  With this as her inspiration, she decided to work on a list of some of the most notable dresses in fashion history.  Some of the examples include The Baby Doll, The Bond Girl, The Chanel Jersey Dress (which is credited with inspiring the little black dress), The Hostess/Patio Dress, The Flapper, and The Kimono.  Along with each example she provides accessories that work best with that style, related styles, who the dress was worn by, and its designers.

“The Siren Dress evokes a combination of the Sirens of Greek mythology, who sang men to their deaths, and the siren on top of the ambulance, red and flashing.  The Siren dress can be any length, silhouette, or fabric, as long as its red…and as long as it’s intended to lure men to their doom.”

Each book is interesting in its own way.  I’ll remember the children’s book as my daughter gets older, to either remind her to always be kind to others, or to inspire her to feel good about herself no matter what the circumstances!


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