Sarah, Plain and Tall was written by Patricia MacLachlan. This  novel was the Newberry Medal winner thirty years ago and is still a sweet read. MacLachlan’s language is simple but eloquent. Though short, Sarah, Plain and Tall is rich in detail and heart. The genre is pioneer historical fiction and the book is suitable for elementary aged children.

The story is told from the point of view of pre-teen Anna, big sister to Caleb, whose mother died the day after Caleb was born. Their father, Jacob, manages the two of them and a farm on the prairie. They share the farm with two friendly dogs, two working horses, cows and sheep.

Jacob places an advertisement through the newspaper for a wife for himself and a mother for his children. He receives a reply from a woman in Maine named Sarah Wheaton. All three family members send letters in reply to Sarah’s letter.  The family and Sarah develop an interest in each other.

Sarah decides to come and visit them for a month, to see if they can get along together. She brings her cat and stays in a guest room in the house, because the town and adjoining farms are so far away.

The children desperately want her to stay. They want to hear her sing, as their mother did. They want their father to be happy again. Sarah misses the sea, though she makes every effort to embrace her new environment: plowing, cooking, and cutting hair. She meets the neighbors and survives a big storm. As they all learn about each other through the joys and trials of daily life on the farm, they must decide whether or not they can become a family.

In Sarah, Plain and Tall MacLachlan shows us ordinary people, living the ups and downs of ordinary life with grace. At 67 pages the novel is a nice-sized chapter book. It is available in most libraries, as well as on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

 

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