On I Had a Favorite Dress

Every little girl has a favorite dress. And most of the time, this steadfast adoration our children have for their beloved garment is a pretty endearing quality. That is, until the day your child decides that there is absolutely no other option in their entire closet, or in this entire world that can be worn on this particular day. It has to be that dress. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except that said dress is missing. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the dress is pulled out from underneath the bed where it has been in a crumpled heap for days, smelling of the crusty Marinara sauce splashed across the front of it. And then you reach the moment, that pivotal moment, that parent-defining moment, where you have to decide…will you let her wear it?

As a mom of three little girls, I have participated in my fair share of knock-down, drag-outs over wardrobe choices. I think that is why I just love this week’s Perfect Picture Book, I HAD A FAVORITE DRESS. There are no stanky heaps of tomato-splattered dress in this book, but if there were, Mama would handle it with ease. The mom in this book is brilliant. I want to be like her! When her daughter outgrows her favorite dress, and starts in with the complaining, Mama comes up with a solution. She SNIP SNIPs and SEW, SEWs, and Voila! The dress is transformed. Complete inspiration.


  • Written by: Boni Ashburn
  • Illustrated by: Julia Denos
  • Published by: Abrams Books for Young Readers, August 1, 2011
  • Suitable for: Ages 4 and up
  • Topics/Themes: Creativity, Individuality, Fashion, Sewing
  • Opening: “I had a favorite dress that was my favoritest dress ever. I wore it every Tuesday, because that was my favorite day of the week.”
  • Synopsis: (from Amazon) Open up a fresh and stylish story about growing up and keeping hold of your favorite memories. As the year passes, the narrator’s favorite dress goes through a series of creative changes, from dress to shirt to tank top to scarf and so on, until all that’s left of it is a good memory. Assisted by her patient and crafty mama, the narrator finds that when disaster strikes her favorite things, she doesn’t need to make mountains out of molehills—she “makes molehills out of mountains” instead! Structured around the days of the week, the story is also illustrated to show the passing of the seasons, a perfect complement to the themes of growing older and keeping hold (and letting go) of special mementos.
  • Links to Resources: As I was reading this book with my kids, and they saw how Mama transformed the dress time and again, they kept asking me with wonder in their voices, “Mommy, how did she DO that?” It made me think that it would be really fun to do some sewing projects with them. I don’t sew much, but I found this blog called Whipstitch that features 5 different projects you can do with kids that introduce them to sewing. It starts with something as simple as making macaroni necklaces, which introduces them to the concept of threading.  Also, the book communicates that making memories of special things in your life is important. So you could choose a certain area of life (school, pets, sports, holiday, etc.) and make a memory book. Artists Helping Children has a great page where they show you how to make a variety of different books.
  • Why I Like this Book: So many reasons that I have already covered, but I haven’t yet talked about the beautiful art in this book, done by the talented Julia Denos. It has a real light and breezy style, one that will have you turning the pages to see what sort of outfit this stylish city girl has on next. I also didn’t realize until I read one of the book’s reviews, but the story is based on an old Jewish folktale, titled, “The Tailor.” Boni Ashburn’s writing is a fun read, and she has crafted a fresh, modern story that is sure to capture the hearts of little girls everywhere!

Please don’t forget to head over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s sassy blog and check out the other picks for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

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  • http://www.bethstilborn.com/ Beth Stilborn

    What a delightful sounding book! Thank you for sharing it with us. I love the idea of transforming the outgrown dress into various things as the little girl grows up. What a great idea!

    • http://www.facebook.com/dixonamy12 Amy Dixon

       It is a fun book, very much geared toward girls!

  • Tina Cho

    Looks like a fun book! Cute photo of your daughter, I assume.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dixonamy12 Amy Dixon

       Yes, that is Lily, my youngest fashionista! She adores this book.

  • Penny Klostermann

    This sounds wonderful, Amy. I’m putting it on my library list.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dixonamy12 Amy Dixon

       I know you will love it, Penny!

  • Carrie Finison

    I’m just getting into those clothing battles with my 3-year-old. Yesterday she changed her outfit 4 times! This sounds like a great book. Thanks for the review.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dixonamy12 Amy Dixon

       Oh yes, wardrobe changes are frequent in my house, too!

  • http://bildebok.wordpress.com/ Cathy Mealey

    I am sorely lacking in sewing skills myself, but I’ve been compelled to turn a favorite shirt into a pillow after it was outgrown.    I think she wore it until her head no longer fit through the opening!  Will definitely look for this book.  Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/dixonamy12 Amy Dixon

       Turning it into a pillow is a great idea! I just might have to steal that one!

  • Joanna Marple

    I love the idea of a book about growing up, holding on and letting go.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dixonamy12 Amy Dixon

       Those really are the deeper themes, Joanna. When we read it, my girls are fascinated by what the dress will turn into next, but I am in tears over how quickly the little girl is growing up :-)

  • Tiltonph

    I like the theme of this book.  I imagine little girls will be mesmarized by the illustrations and love the creativity of the mother.  What a fun book.  Great selection.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dixonamy12 Amy Dixon

       It is most definitely a girly book! Thanks, Pat!

  • Julie Rowan-Zoch

    Re-cycle! Great example for a child to see it happen with their own personal treasure. Just put it on hold – thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/dixonamy12 Amy Dixon

       I never really thought about it as a recycling thing, but that is true! What a great angle…thanks, Julie!

  • Kirsten Larson

    Oh, I’ve seen this one. The artwork is stunning.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dixonamy12 Amy Dixon

       It really is. I never feel like I do justice to the art in my descriptions!

  • http://susannahill.blogspot.com/ Susanna Leonard Hill

    This looks beautiful, Amy!  I am worse at sewing than I am at cleaning, so I might not manage as well as this mama :)  And the daughter of mine that had a clothing hang up was a tomboy – for her it was a certain red tee-shirt and navy blue sweatpants that she had to wear Every. Single. Day. to preschool.  And she knew if I tried to substitute an identical set – the replacements looked the same to me, but must not have felt the same – she ALWAYS knew.  So I did laundry every single night for a year! :)  I need this book! :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/dixonamy12 Amy Dixon

       I’m not really a sewer either, unless you count the occasional button. Which is probably why my kids were so in awe of the transformations of the dress…they’ve never seen anything like it! :-)

      And, wow…that’s a whole lotta laundry!

      • http://susannahill.blogspot.com/ Susanna Leonard Hill

        Seriously – one shirt and one pair of sweatpants every night!  And I “sew” with duct tape, staples or glue :)

  • http://snugglewithpicturebooks.com/ Richa Jha

    This sounds so freakingly familiar, Amy! I have a seven year old who refuses to let go of her dresses. I’ve had those little favorites snipped and snipped and snipped and then finally (once, even) converted into a doll’s wrap-around! I’d love to share this book with my young one! Thanks for sharing it here. 

  • Heather Newman

    What a cool idea for a picture book! We’ve made pillows out of favorite old clothes (the extent of my sewing skills) and stuffed them with other outgrown clothes. I’ll have to see if our library has this one

  • http://twitter.com/ThisKid_Erik This Kid Reviews Bks

    I think my little sister would like this!  I like the cover art.

  • Stacy S. Jensen

    I keep some of my son’s clothes with the thoughts of making a quilt. Since I don’t sew, I don’t know why I have this idea. :) Fun pick.