Module 5: Gossamer

GossamerLowry, L. (2006). Gossamer. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. 

Summary: Where do dreams come from? At night, the imagined emerge from the heap, carefully deciding which of your personal belongings to touch in order to gather memories. After collecting these fragments, they then bestow them upon you as you sleep.

Where do nightmares come from? The sinisteed scorch through your walls when you are weak and vulnerable and inflict your fears and awful memories upon you as you sleep.

In Gossamer, Fastidious is tasked with training Littlest One in the art of collecting fragments and bestowing. However, Littlest One is quite curious and a too irritating for Fastidious. After speaking with Most Ancient, Thin Elderly agrees to switch places with Fastidious.

Thin Elderly has more patience with Littlest One and can see he potential. He recognizes her skills and value, such as her gossamer touch and inquisitive mind. When John, a fragile, abused boy is placed in the home they are working to deliver dreams, Thin Elderly and Littlest One much protect him from the sinisteed and ultimately the Horde.

Littlest One proves her ability by being brave, strong, and resourceful while Thin Elderly’s patience and unwavering faith in her helps her to succeed in saving John.

Impressions: Gossamer was such a beautiful book. I just do not know how else to describe it! Lowry is incredibly creative! When I figured out that the imagined were collecting fragmements from objects to create dreams, I was filled with excitement – how original and stunning!

My son is only 2 1/2 but I read bits and pieces of this to him before bed and even he laid there, engaged. The way Lowry writes is incredibly captivating and is better read aloud than to oneself. If it can capture the attention of a toddler, imagine what it can do to a class of elementary students or middle schoolers; you don’t need pictures, at all.

Review: With this slender novel, two-time Newbery Award Medal winner Lois Lowry answers the age-old question: Where do dreams come from? Littlest One is training as a dreamgiver. With a touch as light as gossamer, she takes seriously her job of gathering memories from people’s possessions and returning the pleasant memories as dreams. When she and Thin Elderly, her mentor, get a new assignment, they realize that their new job will be difficult. The woman is old and John is a troubled boy with an abusive father. He has recently been placed in foster care with the old woman. But nightmares visit the boy each night and threaten to undo the good work that Littlest One and Thin Elderly do to bring happiness to their charges. Lowry skillfully crafts three stories into a successful whole in this enchanting novella. With her own gossamer touch Lowry’s prose resonates with lyricism and sensitivity. To fully appreciate the prose, teachers and librarians should read this aloud. Strong characterizations and multiple themes (love, trust, work ethic, abuse, growth, and coming of age) lend it to engaging class discussions.”

Litherland, T.N. (20016, November 1). [Review of the book Gossamer, by Lowry, L.]. Library Media Connect, 25(3), p. 75.

Library Uses: As previously mentioned in my impressions and review, Gossamer is an excellent read-aloud. It would be a wonderful book to read to classes over the course of a couple library visits, as it is not very long. It would also work great as a book talk.


Module 1: The Hundred Dresses


Estes, E. (1944). The hundred dresses. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace, and Co.

Summary: Wanda Petronski is a poor Polish-American girl growing up in a small Connecticut town. When she tells her classmates, Peggy and Maddie, that she has one hundred dresses hanging in her closet but yet only wears the same blue dress every day they begin relentlessly teasing her.The endless cruelty Wanda experiences in school ultimately results in her father removing her from school. As a result, Maddie, who had already been feeling guilty for the teasing becomes increasingly upset over her actions. It isn’t until Wanda wins a drawing contest (after she has already moved), in which she drew her one hundred dresses, that Maddie and Peggy accept her and realize that Wanda has liked them all along.

Impressions: Childhood is incredibly simple – children hurt the feelings of others, learn their lesson, apologize and then all is right in the world. There are no grudges, no hard feelings. Or at least this is how Estes’ world appears to be in The Hundred Dresses. I am far removed from elementary school and this book was written in 1945 so childhood was certainly different then than when I grew up. What hasn’t changed though is bullying and racism. It may look the same (teasing because of stuttering or because someone is poor or not popular) or it may be different (cyber bullying). And racism is certainly alive today – Hispanics and people of Middle Eastern descent have been constant targets in America as have other minorities. For these reasons, The Hundred Dresses, though slightly dated, is still relevant for children today.

Review: “This long standing favorite tells the story of Wanda, a Polish immigrant, who is teased by her classmates for her differences and her claim that she owns a hundred dresses. Estes skill with languages shines in this ash she uses just the right word or phrase to vividly catch the emotion and the moment, but still keeps the text natural sounding and accessible. The story serves as a classic example of outstanding use of language in transitional literature.” Liang, L.A., Book Links, January 2006

Liang, L.A. (2006, January). [Review of the book The Hundred Dresses, by E. Estes]. Book Links, 15(3), p. 51.

Library Uses: Many of my colleagues and I are in agreement about the Caldecotts and Newberry award winners being somewhat dry. This is, of course, personal taste. The Hundred Dresses is a great Honor book with substance to keep on hand for patrons looking for award winners. I could also see myself using it for a tween time book talk since it is a fairly easy read and deals with a topic that would apply to that age group.