The Hundred Dresses was written in 1944 by Eleanor Estes but is still as popular today as it was when it was published.The story is based on Estes' own experiences; whilst in elementary school she had a classmate who was teased because she wore the same dress to school every day, and because she, like the character Wanda in the novel, had a Polish last name that was almost unpronounceable. At the time, around 1917, there were not many Polish people where Estes grew up, in West Haven, Connecticut. Of course the classmate had only one dress which is why she wore it every day. In the middle of the school year she relocated to New York City and Estes was never able to apologize for the teasing.
Estes never forgot the little girl and felt guilty for teasing her. She knew what it felt like to be poor, to wear hand me downs and to have clothing too thin for the cold weather.this was not a good reason to be teased. Looking for a way to right this wrong, Estes decided to write the little girl's story, which is how A Hundred Dresses evolved.
Decades after it was written, the book still touches children who are moved by Wanda's forgiving nature and Maddie's remorse. It is the winner of a Newberry honor, the third of Estes' books to do so (she has also been the recipient if a Newberry Medal for the book Ginger Pye). Estes has a passion for books and worked as a librarian for many years before writing her first novel, The Moffats, in 1941. She passed away in 1988.