The 100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes

The_Hundred_DressesWhat do you do when someone claims something you know to be false?

And what do you do when this person continues to “lie” about it?

This is the predicament found in The 100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes.  A girl that comes to school in the same faded blue dress, day after day, has just claimed that she owns 100 dresses.

The girls at school ruthlessly continue to tease the girl about her dress collection on the way to school, during recess, and on the way home.  The so-called-owner of the 100 dresses never sheds a tear and the girls think the teasing is okay.

Until one day…

The day of the school drawing competition proves that the girl wasn’t lying.  100 beautiful dresses painted upon sheets of paper hang around the room in all shades and styles.  The pictures, drawn by the faded-blue-dress-girl, are amazing.

The girls are ashamed when they realize that the girl did have one hundred dresses. Instead of cloth, her dresses hung on sheets of paper.

The pictures of the dresses are good, amazing, and award worthy.  The girl never comes back to school to receive her award.  Faced with the consequence of their teasing, the girls feel awful.  They try to make amends with the girl but she has moved away.

I love the discussions this book started in our home.  Contrary to the popular playground saying – sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me – our words and actions do affect the people around us.  Sometimes words hurt more than a fist.  We talked about finding the courage to stand up against people “poking fun” of others and the importance getting to know people.

The girl with the faded-blue-dress simply wanted to be accepted and loved.  She “dug deep” as Brene Brown would say, and chose to Dare Greatly.  She chose to share a part of her heart with the people – in hopes of connecting with others – and her heart was bruised with their words.  The 100 Dresses has a powerful message for young and old alike: love before you judge.

I think it is easy to believe that we can only be friends with people who are “just like us.”  In reality, we can love and connect with everyone in the world if we are willing to put down our differences and acknowledge that everyone is lonely.

In conclusion, The 100 Dresses is a beautiful book, worth the space it will take on your bookshelf and in your heart.