Reviews for Gold-Threaded Dress
Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 May 2002
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 3-5. When her family moves across town, Oy joins a fourth-grade class with many Mexican American children as well as immigrants from Somalia and Finland, but no one else from Thailand. Isolated not by ethnicity but by shyness, Oy longs for friends, especially the club of girls who hold secret meetings at recess. Liliandra, their manipulative leader, sees a photo of Oy in a beautiful silk dress from Thailand, and she promises Oy club membership in exchange for letting all the members try on the dress. The scene that takes place on the playground as she complies is memorable, but equally affecting is the epiphany Oy experiences when she finally spills her troubles to her mother at home. One could see this as an immigrant story, which it is, but children will empathize with Oy simply as the new girl in class, lonely and unsure how to fit in. Marsden writes with keen observation and finesse about the social dynamics of the classroom and with simplicity reveals the layers of emotion experienced by Oy. ((Reviewed May 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Spring
When Oy, who emigrated from Thailand to the United States with her family when she was four, begins fourth grade at a new school, she is teased and excluded because she's different. After she sees a chance to gain some social cachet, she risks both a beloved Thai dress and her self-respect. Marsden avoids clichTd characterizations, and her careful, detail-oriented prose vividly expresses Oy's conundrum. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2002 February #2
Oy silently cries out in frustration that her teacher and classmates do not accept her as Thai; her teacher issues her an "easier-to-remember" English name; and her fourth-grade classmates pull their round eyes into slits and call her "Chinita," little Chinese. Revealing the challenges young immigrants face in a mixed-race school environment, Oy feels torn between the respect she feels for her Thai culture and the acceptance she wants from her American culture. When she draws her family picture, their eyes are as round as those of the boy who teases her most, further exemplifying her will to fit in. She typifies the average fourth-grader's yearning in a way that each reader will recognize or remember. Acceptance into a campus girl's club is contingent upon allowing chubby club members to wear her petite, gold-threaded dress. The slow plot builds to climactic action as school authorities disband and discipline the whole club, whose members are discovered lined up in their underwear waiting for a turn to try on, inadvertently soil, and tear the delicate garment, symbolic of Oy's tender spirit. In an emotional buildup, Oy is forced to face her choices and reconsider her goals. Marsden, in her debut, draws on her own experience as she describes a loving family guiding their daughter in a difficult time. Those who read this short, character-driven story will remember the parallels between their personal experience and the forceful message, concluding that being kinder to new immigrants builds delightful friendships and provides interesting insights into rich cultures. (Fiction. 8-10) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 March #1
Zeroing in on a very specific situation, first-time author Marsden hits the issues of this age group squarely and truthfully. Fourth grader Oy, a Thai-American student new to a predominantly Mexican-American school, struggles to fit in with the popular clique of girls led by Liliandra. When Liliandra knocks into Oy and a picture of the heroine in a ceremonial Thai dress flutters from her backpack, the trouble begins (" `Oooooh, pretty,' said the girls following Liliandra. `Like a princess' "). The ringleader applies peer pressure until Oy agrees to smuggle the prized dress to school, in order to earn membership in Liliandra's club. Disaster results. Despite the brevity of the novel, Marsden plants details showing the importance of respect for position and education in Oy's home. So when the club initiation rite backfires, the consequences reach much further in Oy's mind than a reprimand at school. A touching friendship also develops with a boy who begins as a bully but softens when he sees Oy's predicament (it turns out he has some Asian heritage as well). The heroine's ultimate decision to take the high road results in a deeper understanding of her parents, including their shared experience as outsiders ("Remember, little daughter," her mother says, "The children are interested in this dress not because it makes them look the same, but because it makes them look different"). Ages 7-9. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 February #3
A fourth-grade Thai-American student, new to a predominantly Mexican-American school, struggles to fit in with a popular clique. In a starred review, PW wrote, "Zeroing in on a very specific situation, first-time author Marsden hits the issues of this age group squarely and truthfully." Ages 7-9. (Mar.) [Page 159]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2002 April
Gr 3-5-Fourth-grader Oy is the new girl in school. She wants to make friends, hold the pet hamster, and be invited into the in-crowd's clubhouse. She would really like Frankie to stop calling her Chinese, because she's Thai. When a photograph that shows her in ceremonial Thai dress falls on the ground, her classmates become obsessively enchanted with this vision of her. The leader of the clique, Liliandra, demands the dress as Oy's initiation fee to gain admittance into the clubhouse. An almost unbearable conflict ensues within her. The treasured garment from her grandmother symbolizes familiar tradition and fond memories, but her need for friends wins out. The girls carelessly grab at it and try pulling it on over their too-large bodies, and the delicate fabric is stretched and torn. When the teacher is drawn over by all the commotion, Oy is humiliated at being called the instigator of these antics. Crushed by the near destruction of her beautiful dress, she must now take home a note telling her mother of the awful event. This is a simple story about the painstaking effort of trying to fit in. It's a perfect choice to read with youngsters battling for friends, and caught within their own tangle of popularity. The Gold-Threaded Dress will have its place as a favorite for its natural voice and development of uncomfortable, yet familiar, predicaments.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.