Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Sarah Plain and Tall

Sarah Plain and Tall

Patricia MacLachlan
Fiction  Series
For ages 7 and up
HarperCollins, 1985   ISBN: 0064402053

Anna and Caleb’s Mama died the day after Caleb was born. It has been hard being without a Mama for so long but now Papa has advertised in the paper for a wife and Sarah from Maine has answered.

Letters go between the family on the prairie and the young woman living by the sea. The children worry that Sarah won’t like them, won’t like their simple little house, won’t like Papa, won’t like the prairie where there is no sea and little water – just grass and sky. Then Sarah agrees to come and visit the family for a month “to see” and she arrives in the spring. Anna hopes desperately that they can all be “perfect” for Sarah so that she will stay and wishes that they had “a sea of our own” which would make Sarah miss Maine less.

The author superbly captures the anxiety and tension that the children experience - the fear that they will loose their chance to have a mother at long last. With just the right words she captures the spirit of the prairie and the personalities of the characters so well that we can see the grass, smell the dust, and experience the worry that flows through Anna and Caleb’s hearts. Full of poignancy, hope and love, this is a story which will warm the heart.

This book won the Newbery Award.