Module 4: Sarah, Plain and Tall

Module 4: Sarah, Plain and Tall

Maclachlan, P. (1986). Sarah, plain and tall. New York: HarperCollins

Summary

The way of life in the 19th century was much simpler. This story is about two children, Caleb and Anna, who want a new mother since their own mother died when they were very young. Their father is not the same and they hope to find a new wife for him. Sarah enters their life and changes their home from a sad one to a happy home once again filled with singing.

What Did I Think?

I loved reading about life on the plain in a time long ago. Hard work and family were the most important parts to life back then and this story takes you back to the simple life. It reminds me of the love children have for their mother and the returned love a mother gives her children. It is innocent and real and brings to life the characters.

Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-Glenn Close narrates Patricia MacLachlan’s beautiful novels on this fine audio collection. Sarah, Plain and Tall tells the story of Sarah, who came from Maine to answer Jacob’s advertisement for a wife and mother, all from the point of view of young Anna. The classic story continues in Skylark, as Anna and her brother, Caleb, must travel with their new mother, Sarah, to Maine when a terrible drought threatens their home. Caleb picks up the story several years later in Caleb’s Story, telling of the return of his grandfather, who had abandoned the family when Caleb’s father was a young boy. Close, who played the role of Sarah in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of the first book, creates distinct voices for each character without ever resorting to theatrics. Anna and Caleb’s voices mature as listeners progress through the stories, and Close’s carefully unobtrusive narration showcases MacLachlan’s simple yet poetic words. An interview with Patricia MacLachlan at the end of the collection gives students more information about the author’s life and writing process, and about the real-life inspiration for Sarah. A beautiful collusion of an excellent story with a perfect narrator, and a treat for all listeners.
Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Maryland School for the Deaf, Columbia
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Kirkus Reviews (1985)

A warming, delicately tuned story set in an unspecified rural American past, about a motherless farm family and the woman who comes from Maine for a trial visit after Papa advertises for a wife. Even before she arrives, Sarah wins Anna and Caleb with her brusque but touching letters. (“Tell them I sing,” she writes to Papa in answer to their question. We already know that Papa hasn’t sung since Mama died, when Caleb was born.) Sarah learns to plow and teaches the others, even Papa, to play. She also talks about the colors of the sea, which she had to leave when her fisherman brother married and his wife took over the house in Maine. Anna and Caleb know that Sarah misses the sea, and they hang on every hint that she might stay. She does, of course, to everyone’s satisfaction. JLG.

Library Lesson

This book would go well with a unit about life during the 19th century. Working with a teacher, the librarian could use this book as a way to help students connect with characters living in that time period. It could also be used in connection with other books from that time period, like the Little House on the Prairie series.

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