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Cover image for Sarah, plain and tall
Format:
Title:
Sarah, plain and tall
ISBN:
9780060241018

9780060241025

9780064471497

9780064402057

9780808599852

9781413148107
Edition:
First edition.
Publication:
New York : Harper & Row, 1985.
Physical Description:
58 pages ; 22 cm.
Series title(s):
Number in series:
1.
General Note:
"A Charlotte Zolotow book."

Sequel: Skylark.
Summary:
When their father invites a mail-order bride to come live with them in their prairie home, Caleb and Anna are captivated by their new mother and hope that she will stay.
Reading Level:
650L Lexile.

Decoding indicator: 80 (high) Semantic indicator: 100 (high) Syntactic indicator: 90 (high) Structure indicator: 90 (high) Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader Middle Grade 3.4 1.0 Kilgore Intermediate.

Accelerated Reader AR MG 3.4 1.0 137.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.2 3 Quiz: 10009 Guided reading level: R.
Added Corporate Author:
Holds:

Available:*

Library
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JF MACLACHLAN
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JUV FIC MacLACHLAN
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+ FICTION - MACLACHLAN
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+ FICTION - MACLACHLAN
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JFIC MACLACHLAN
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J FICTION - MACLACHLAN
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J FICTION - MACLACHLAN
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J FICTION - MACLACHLAN
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J-MAC
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MacLachlan
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J FIC MACLACHLAN 1986
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J AWARDS MACLACHLAN 1986
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J FICTION MACLACHLAN
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J MacLachlan, P.
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J MacLachlan, P.
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J MacLachlan, P.
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JF MACLACHLAN
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MacLachlan
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On Order

Summary

Summary

This beloved Newbery Medal-winning book is the first of five books in Patricia MacLachlan's chapter book series about the Witting family.

Set in the late nineteenth century and told from young Anna's point of view, Sarah, Plain and Tall tells the story of how Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton comes from Maine to the prairie to answer Papa's advertisement for a wife and mother. Before Sarah arrives, Anna and her younger brother Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she sing? Will she stay?

This children's literature classic is perfect for fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books, historical fiction, and timeless stories using rich and beautiful language. Sarah, Plain and Tall gently explores themes of abandonment, loss and love.

Read the rest of the Sarah books by Patricia MacLachlan: Skylark, Caleb's Story, More Perfect than the Moon, and Grandfather's Dance.


Author Notes

Patricia MacLachlan was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on March 3, 1938. She received a B.A. from the University of Connecticut in 1962 and taught English at a junior high school until 1979. She began writing picture books and novels at the age of thirty-five. Her works include The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt, Skylark, Caleb's Story, Grandfather's Dance, Three Names, All the Places to Love, Before You Came, Cat Talk, and Snowflakes Fall. She won the Golden Kite Award for Arthur, for the Very First Time and the 1986 Newbery Medal for Sarah, Plain and Tall.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

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. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Gr. 3-5. In a simple story evoking a strong sense of family, Sarah answers Jacob Witting's ad for a mail-order bride and agrees to a trial visit on his frontier farm. Jacob's children hope Sarah will stay, though she misses her Maine home on the sea.


New York Review of Books Review

SO MUCH OF early childhood is about animals. We dress toddlers in T-shirts emblazoned with zoo creatures, teach them songs about livestock and tuck them in with stuffed bunnies. Their picture books feature peace-loving bulls, cookie-loving mice and oversize red dogs who make excellent stand-ins for little humans. But the middle-grade years - when kids' passions are still more fixed on kittens and horses than the opposite sex - are the real sweet spot for animal books. This is when we get animal protagonists with inner lives as complicated as a 10-year-old's ("Charlotte's Web") and tender stories about kids whose beloved pets help them grow and mature (I call them bildogsromans), like Kate DiCamillo's "Because of Winn-Dixie." There's also the recurring theme of an animal rescued by a resourceful child - what could feel more empowering to a 10-yearold than saving a life? Four new novels provide their own twists on these classic story lines and prove, once again, that tales about animals can help kids understand the world and themselves. PATRICIA MACLACHLAN ("Sarah, Plain and Tall") is the master of quiet books that pack an emotional wallop. She's also a die-hard dog lover who's written several novels celebrating the healing power of her favorite creatures. Her latest, my father's words (HarperCollins, 144 pp., $15.99; ages 8-12), finds the author in her element: It's the story of a sister and brother who start volunteering at a dog shelter after their father's sudden death. And though the premise might seem way too sad - or even a bit too obvious - MacLachlan turns it into something remarkable. Fiona and Finn's father was a psychologist who loved runny eggs, choral music, basketball and passing along bits of therapy-speak to his children, like the meaning of "passive aggressive." After he is killed in a car accident, fifth grader Fiona notices that the younger Finn has become withdrawn and angry. When the children begin spending time at an animal shelter, Finn bonds with a dog named Emma. Fiona, meanwhile, begins to heal with the help of a former patient of her dad's who calls her once a week to share her father's words, which helped him years ago. In this slim book, MacLachlan provides a beautifully nuanced portrait of one family's recovery after tragedy. Yes, the dogs help the bereaved children - as Fiona puts it, "sometimes people needed dogs to teach the people how good they can be." But they also find comfort in the kind gestures of neighbors, games of basketball in the driveway at night, favorite picture books and new stories about their father from people who knew him. Written in the solemn voice of Fiona, an observant girl who seems to have inherited her father's instinct for listening, the book feels as direct and true as a dog looking you straight in the eyes. IN SHARON CREECH'S SAVING WINSLOW (HarperCollins, 176 pp., $16.99; ages 8 to 12) the rescued creature is a scrawny minidonkey named Winslow, with "black eyes and feathery eyelashes." Beware: This guy is so cute, young readers may be lobbying their parents for one. Born on an uncle's nearby farm, the "pitiful" motherless creature isn't expected to live long. But 10-year-old Louie takes him in, and just like the immortal Fern with runty Wilbur, he pours on the tender love and care, bottle feeding him and wrapping him in blankets. Naturally, as Winslow begins to thrive, he gives back. He helps Louie deal with the painful absence of his older brother, who's left home for the Army. And he coaxes Nora, an odd new girl who oozes negativity, into shedding her prickly exterior. The bond that develops between boy and donkey is genuinely heartwarming. And in seeing Louie's relentless efforts to keep Winslow alive - he sleeps with him in the cellar, wakes for 4 a.m. feedings and even learns how to administer injections - young readers may absorb a subtle lesson in passion and persistence. The plot itself is rather uneventful: At one point, Winslow goes missing, and that's about it, dramawise. But the story is buoyed by the whisper-weight chapters and Creech's spare, poetic language. Creech isn't writing in verse (which she used to great effect in "Love That Dog!") but her words evoke imagery that will linger in a reader's mind long after the final page. When Louie first sees Winslow, for instance, "he felt a sudden rush, as if the roof had peeled off the house and the sun had dived into every corner of the kitchen." SOMETIMES THE WILD and fierce are more fascinating than the domesticated and cuddly. Carl Hiaasen's best-selling middle-grade capers ("Hoot," "Flush," "Scat," "Chomp") all have intrepid tweens, lawbreaking baddies and endangered Florida wildlife at their center. His latest, SQUIRM (Knopf, 276 pp., $18.99; ages 8 to 12), is narrated by Billy Dickens, who lives with his mom and sister in Florida. Billy doesn't have a "halfway normal life" for a few reasons: He hasn't heard from his father since he was 3 or 4, his eagleobsessed mom makes him and his sister move every few years so they can live near an active nest, and he spends most of his free time with snakes. When Billy figures out that his dad - who may or may not be working for the C.I.A. - is living in Montana, he flies out West to confront him. There, he meets his father's new wife and stepdaughter and becomes embroiled in a high-stakes battle involving snakes, grizzlies, drones and villainous gun-toting trophy hunters. It's a fun romp that will keep readers hooked, even as the plot becomes increasingly convoluted in the manner of a wacky PG-13 movie. Perhaps best of all is the way Hiaasen conveys the wonders of wild creatures, from the "skittish and solitary" behavior of panthers to the unusual nesting habits of swallows. Don't be surprised if after reading "Squirm," your young reader tells you the safest way to handle a yellow rat snake or scare off a grizzly. And now that we're on the subject of bears, let's consider the most famous bear of all. Most children think of Winnie-thePooh as the mustard-yellow bear in the bafflingly small red shirt. But before Disney got hold of him, dear sweet Pooh was, of course, the creation of the British author A. A. Milne, whose inspiration was an actual black bear named Winnie at the London Zoo during World War I. ADOPTED AS AN ORPHANED cub by a Canadian Army veterinarian named Henry Colebourn, Winnie eventually sailed to England with the troops. The author Lindsay Mattick and the illustrator Sophie Blackall shared the story in their 2015 Caldecott Medal-winning "Finding Winnie." Now, Mattick (a great-granddaughter of Colebourn) has teamed with the author Josh Greenhut on Winnie's great war (Little, Brown, 227 pp., $16.99; ages8 to 12), a middle-grade novel, also illustrated by Blackall, that expands upon these events for a slightly older audience. This fleshed-out Winnie is very much a reflection of Milne's Pooh - a naive, openhearted creature with a great weakness for food and capacity for love. We get a range of dramatic scenes conjured by the authors, including Winnie's last moments with her mother (who utters "Be brave, my Bear!" before she's shot by a trapper) and the friendships she makes with squirrels, horses and a rat named Tatters. While the juxtaposition of cute talking animals and excerpts from Colebourn's actual diary entries is disorienting, the overall result is a work of undeniable charm. This is distinctively old-fashioned, gentle storytelling that children will enjoy hearing read aloud. And the photographs of the real Winnie at the end of the book are the clincher - a reminder that real animals can be more enchanting than any we've imagined. CATHERINE hong writes for publications including Architectural Digest and Martha Stewart Living, and blogs about children's books at mrslittle.com.