The Hundred Dresses
Mary B. Neal

Wanda Petronski wore the same faded-blue dress to school every day. It was always clean, but looked as though it had never been ironed properly. One day when a classmate showed up wearing a bright new dress that was much admired, Wanda said suddenly, “I have a hundred dresses at home.” That started the teasing game of dresses, which Peggy and Maddie played with Wanda. It was fun to stop Wanda on the way to school and ask, “How many dresses did you say you had?” Wanda did have the hundred dresses, and this is the story of how Peggy and Maddie came to understand about them and what the game meant to Wanda.

After completing their reading, students will be able to create an alternative scene for the novel in the form of a short play. The alternate scene will depict Maddie standing up for Wanda and standing up to Peggy.


  • Students will be able to analyze the words and actions of fictional characters in order to determine if the individual (s) showed good character.
  • Students will be able to utilize their understanding of a characters previous words and actions to create an alternative scene for the novel in the form of a play.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of positive character choices to describe appropriate moral behavior.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate their prior knowledge of the fundamentals of plays.
  • Students will read The Hundred Dresses
  • Students will post the following questions in their reading journals to answer and discuss at Guided Reading groups:
    • Peggy says she is not really cruel. Do you think this too? Why or why not?
    • What do the girls really mean when they say they want to “have some fun with” Wanda?
    • Maddie is scared of Peggy and doesn’t say anything to her even though Maddie doesn’t like the game. What would you say to Peggy if she was your friend?
    • We know the students were never nice to Wanda so why they “burst into applause” when they found out that Wanda had won the contest? Explain.
    • Do you think Peggy is really sorry when she finds out that Wanda moved and why Wanda moved? Explain. 
    • Maddie states that from now on she will speak up when others are being teased. Do you think that she follows through with this? Explain why or why not. 
    • Maddie and Peggy “meant to say they were sorry” in the letter to Wanda but they “ended up writing a friendly letter.” Why do you think the girls did not say they were sorry? Explain. 
    • Peggy and Maddie were never kind to Wanda, so why do you think Wanda gave them each a picture of her dresses? 
    • After receiving Wanda’s letter, Peggy states, “It shows she got our letter and this is her way of saying that everything’s all right. And that’s that.” Do you think Peggy really believes this to be true? Why doesn’t Maddie feel the same? 
    • Why is Maddie crying when she realizes that Wanda drew her and Peggy’s faces with the dresses? Explain. 

  • At the end of the novel, students will work in small groups in order to write an alternate scene for The Hundred Dresses in the form of a play. 
  • Students will complete the ReadWriteThink web site’s Drama Map graphic organizer in small groups. 
  • The small groups will then write a play that will require the character of Maddie to stand up to her friend Peggy who consistently bullies Wanda. 
  • Students will be required to use information from their readings, writings, and  discussions as well as their knowledge of good character in order to make the scene appropriate for the story as well as a firm demonstration of positive character choices.
The plays will be assessed on two main criteria:
  • The students will need to demonstrate an understanding of character development by depicting a new set of words and actions for Maddie. 
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the workings of a play which was taught in a previous lesson.