Oy moved to America from Thailand with her parents when she was five years old. Now she is in fourth grade, but she still feels left out, and no one goes out of their way to make her feel welcome.
Frankie, a boy in her class, teases her about being Chinese. Oy wants to correct him and say that she’s Thai, but she thinks it wouldn’t help if she did. Lilliandra, the popular girl in class, has an exclusive club that meets on the playground during recess. Oy longs to be included in the club, longs to have friends, but Lilliandra ignores her. Oy’s parents, Kun Mere and Kun Pa, don’t understand their daughter’s loneliness. They believe that Oy should focus on her schoolwork, not be distracted by silly things like clubs.
One day at school, a picture of Oy in her pink-and-gold Thai dress and jewelry falls out of her backpack. Then Lilliandra is very interested in Oy, and willing to let her into the club, but only if Oy brings the gold-threaded dress into school and lets the other girls try it on.
Oy desperately wants to join the club, but the dress is special to her, and she fears that it will get torn and dirty, or that the playground monitor will catch them and get them in trouble. Then what will her parents say? Which is more important to her– being included or being good?
Even though The Gold-Threaded Dress is an easy-reader book, it still is one I enjoyed because Carolyn Marsden takes the problems of wanting to have friends and hits them on the head. I have to admit, though, that the characters are a bit two-dimensional, and could have done with a little more fleshing out. The companion book to The Gold-Threaded Dress is The Quail Club.