Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Patricia MacLachlan
Fiction  Series
For ages 7 and up
HarperCollins, 2004   ISBN: 978-0064406222

There has been no rain for weeks and weeks and everything is dried up, dusty, and dying. It is a hard time to be a farmer, and it is a hard time to be Sarah, who is missing the green and the sea of her birthplace in Maine. Sarah's family, Jacob, Anna, and Caleb, all have their names "written in this land" no matter what happens, but Sarah's name is not yet written in the earth of the prairie, and her family cannot help worrying just a little that maybe Sarah's name will never be written alongside theirs.

All anyone can talk or think about is "what if it doesn't rain," and it doesn't really help when Sarah gets letters from Maine in which her relatives describe all the rain that they are getting and how well the garden there is growing. Sarah finds herself feeling guilty because her old home is so green, whereas her new one is suffering from such a lack of water.

As time passes, everyone has to make do with less and less water. Wells start to dry up and families move away. Then fires break out on the farm and Sarah's heart begins to break under the strain. Jacob insists that she and the children leave, that they go to Maine where they can rest in the comfort of greenery and water. Jacob stays on the farm to wait for the rain to come.

At first Maine is a wonderful adventure, but then everyone starts to miss Jacob so much that even the beautiful green countryside and the sea matters less and less. Sarah carries a secret in her heart and she begins to wonder if she is ever going to return to the prairie; and if she will ever be able to write her name in the land there.

This magical, sometimes heart-breaking story reveals, with a stark clarity, how cruel Mother Nature can be to the farmer. We also see how all-powerful love can be, overcoming even the greatest of hardships. Though Sarah cannot set aside the love that she has for “what I knew first,” she works hard to find a love for the prairie through her husband Jacob and their children.

This is the second title in the Sarah Plain and Tall series.