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Sarah, Plain and Tall


Sarah, Plain and Tall

Anna misses her mother, who died the morning after Caleb was born. Anna tells Caleb the same stories over and over again about when he was born and what a beautiful baby their mother thought he was. Their mother used to sing all the time, and their father would sing with her. But nobody sings anymore.

Anna, Caleb, and their father live out on the prairie in the days of horses and wagons, with a big barn, pastures, fields, cows, and sheep. Anna has to cook and help her father raise Caleb, who helps with the farm chores. But each of the family members feels a deep loss. And that's why Anna and Caleb are happy when their father tells them that he has put an advertisement in the papers for a woman to come be his wife and their mother. People used to do that then. Anna's and Caleb's closest neighbor found his wife that way, all the way from Tennessee. And their father reads them the letter he received from a woman who answered his ad, a woman named Sarah.

They like her letter, and they each one write back to her. Caleb asks her if she can sing, and Anna asks her if she can braid hair and make stew. Sarah says she can do all these things. When she says that she will come out for a month and see how things go, everybody is happy. But they can all tell from her letters that she loves the sea where she lives in Maine, and they don't know if she will like the prairie.

Sarah, when she comes, is tall, plain, and independent. She brings her cat, named Seal, and she brings a piece of the sea with her for each child --- a small shell for Caleb and a perfect white stone for Anna. She teaches them to pick flowers and hang them up to dry, so they will have a little bit of summer when winter comes. She sings songs for them. She names their three little lambs. And their two dogs sleep in her room. Everyone loves her, and they hope she will want to stay.

But she misses the sea. How can the prairie ever compare with the sea? Will Sarah decide to stay there with them, or will she drive into town and buy a ticket back to Maine?

Reviewed by Tamara Penny on April 25, 1985

Sarah, Plain and Tall
by Patricia MacLachlan

  • Publication Date: April 25, 1985
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0060241012
  • ISBN-13: 9780060241018