The Hundred Dresses Characters

The Hundred Dresses Character List

Wanda Petronski

Wanda is the owner of the hundred dresses in the book's title. She is of Polish heritage and has a name most people struggle to pronounce. She is from a poor family and lives in the poor area of town with her brother and father. She is a quiet child who rarely says anything and never laughs. Wanda is teased, not because she wears the same dress to school every day, but because she claims to have one hundred dresses at home. At first the other children believe her, assuming that she means party dresses that would be inappropriate at school, but when she tells them she has all kinda of dresses, the teasing begins. She never speaks up against the girls teasing her, but says nothing whilst they do so. Wanda has a tremendous capacity for forgiveness, extending friendship to Peggy and Maddie after she has moved away. Wanda is an incredibly talented artist and designer, the hundred dresses being stylish and eye-catching designs on paper, for which she wins the drawing and color contest at school and which shows her in a very different light among her peers.


Peggy is the most popular girl in school and is confident and talented. Although she is the instigator of the teasing she is not really a mean girl, as she does not see the teasing as picking on Wanda; from Peggy's perspective she is just calling Wanda out for her obviously silly fib about having one hundred dresses at home. After they see Wanda's drawings she is self-effacing enough to concede that although she is good at drawing Wanda is far more talented. Peggy feels rather guilty about Wanda leaving and is worried that her teasing has driven Wanda away. Peggy does learn an important lesson about not teasing people and is otherwise a nice child who would not consider herself, nor be considered by other, to be a bully.


Maddie is Peggy's best friend and also teases Wanda but knows in her heart this is wrong. Unfortunately because she is not quite as popular as Wanda she is reluctant to speak up and say that the teasing is unkind. Maddie is also quite poor and wears hand-me-downs, many from Peggy, which her mother alters or embellishes with braid and ribbons to make sure nobody at school remembers seeing them before. It is this fact that makes her reluctant to stick up for Wanda as she is concerned that if the class then realizes she is also poor they will start teasing her instead. Maddie becomes a stronger person by the end of the book and decides that in the future she will be the champion of anyone who is teased and not be one of the children teasing them.

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