Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Hundred Dresses

We finished the short story The Hundred Dresses, a Eleanor Estes Newberry Honor book, in a one-hour sitting. It's leveled at 5.0, (starting fifth grade), but most kids in grades 3-4 could easily read it, with help on a few advanced vocabulary words.

Although, in leveling books, maturity of themes is to be considered as much as vocabulary and readability. I think fifth grade is the best year to delve seriously into the themes Estes presents in The Hundred Dresses.

Estes's themes--racial, academic, and economic prejudice--challenge children to adhere to their convictions despite fears of losing friends, losing popularity, or of being ridiculed themselves.

The main character, Maddie, best friend to the antagonist in the story, largely ignores the Holy Spirit's warnings about letting her friend tease Wanda, a poor polish girl in their class who wears the same blue dress every day, and lives on the wrong side of town.

This isn't a Christian book, per se, but the inner warnings Maddie receives can only be described as Holy Spirit pricks of conscience.  And the conviction her tormented soul eventually arrives at--that she will never again stand by and allow anyone to be teased, despite any cost to herself (even losing her best friend), is clearly faith driven.

I highly recommend this book as part of your devotional time. It's a wonderful illustration of the cost involved in being set apart for God. Our children need to assured that God is with them always, that he will never abandon them, and because of this, they are free to be Holy. There is nothing to fear.

Leviticus 20:26 
You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Hebrews 13:5
I will never leave you nor forsake you.
See this post for more on the literary works of Eleanor Estes.


Bobbie said...

Thank you for this! I am going to put this book on the list for when my girls are a little older. This year is just first grade and K so we have a little ways but I am going to read it with them in the future!

Christine said...

Bobbie, thank you for stopping by! Nice to meet you. You have a lovely blog.