Author Spotlight: Eleanor Estes

The first book by Eleanor Estes that I ever read was The Hundred Dresses, a short Newbery Honor book that deals with issues of poverty and bullying. I was assigned to read the book in second or third grade, and found it quite sad and depressing at the time. In fact, The Hundred Dresses was one of the books that solidified my childhood suspicion that a book bearing the Newbery seal was a book to be avoided.

If I had any prejudice against Eleanor Estes, though, it evaporated fairly quickly when my sister picked up a copy of Estes' Pinky Pye at the bookstore one summer. I've had a lifelong fondness for cats and mysteries, so the story of a little black kitten who learns to type and becomes something of a detective was quite appealing to my middle-grade self. I wasn't disappointed in the book, which unlike The Hundred Dresses had humor and adventure in abundance. Pinky Pye became an instant favorite of mine, and remains one of my favorite children's books to this day.

When I finished reading Pinky Pye, I was eager to see if Estes' other children's books were as good. I moved on to Estes' series about the Moffat family, whom I had unknowingly encountered before in an excerpt from The Moffats that appeared in a treasury of Halloween stories. As I mentioned in one of my Children's Book Week posts, the Moffat books were just the sort of family stories I loved as a child, and I quickly read through all four installments of the series. When I ran out of Moffat books, I moved on to The Witch Family, The Alley, and its sequel The Tunnel of Hugsy Goode, the latter two of which are loosely connected to the first. While each book of Estes' I read was a little different, I enjoyed all of them thoroughly.

My experience with Eleanor Estes' books just goes to show that you shouldn't judge all of an author's work by the first book of his or hers that you read. I'm so glad that I didn't let my initial dislike of The Hundred Dresses stop me from reading the rest of Estes' books, because if I had I would have missed out on an author who has become one of my favorites.