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Sarah, Plain and Tall (Sarah, Plain and Tall #1)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  52,317 ratings  ·  1,603 reviews
"I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall." A heartwarming story about two children, Anna and Caleb, whose lives are changed forever when their widowed papa advertises for a mail-order bride. Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton from Maine answers the ad and agrees to come for a month. Sarah brings gifts from the sea, a cat named Seal, and singing and laug ...more
Paperback, 58 pages
Published 1987 by Harper Trophy (first published 1985)
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Petra X
This is a slight book, an hour or two's read at most, yet it's deeply-moving and addresses the existential problems of life in a straightforward way.

The book is as plain as Sarah, but neither the word "plain" nor Sarah's beauty or lack of it are ever defined. Does 'plain' mean not-goodlooking, not beautiful on the surface or does it mean unadorned, without unnecessary ornament, both in looks and her character. In the context of the book either way makes perfect sense.

The story has but a small
I had totally forgotten about this book, friends. I mean, I knew I liked it when I was younger, but I had pretty much forgotten what it was.

So I picked it up again.

Good lord, do I like Sarah—MUCH more than I remember, since I think originally I was mostly focused on Anna.

I wanted to know what motivated her.

There she is, with her only brother about to be married and her cute young sister-in-law not wanting her in the house. So she answers an ad and sets off across the country to (maybe) marry a
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
My mother is a retired librarian, and this was one of the books she recommended most frequently for young readers. Now many years into retirement, she still suggests it regularly.

Anna and Caleb live on the prairie with their papa. Mama died from childbirth complications, and the house feels hollow now that Papa doesn't sing anymore.

Sarah comes from Maine for a one-month trial period to see if she and Papa might want to marry. Sarah is plain and tall, which is probably why she hasn't yet found
I'd forgotten all about this gem, until I saw someone elses review on here..I loved this and so did my daughter.
Can we say overrated? This is supposed to be one of the greatest classics in Children's Literature, and the winner of the Newbery in 1986. There's no character action...just a bunch of waiting around for some kind of story to develop.

I can summarize this story with these questions and answers coming from the snot-nosed, little children in the novel: "Will we have a mother? Will Sarah come? Will she like me? Will she stay? Yes."

Boring. Thank God Glenn Close made the character so

I saw a reference to this book in a "Books of the Century" list and realized I hadn't ever read it or watched the TV movies with Glenn Close.

Here's what I suggest. When you're feeling in the mood for gentle, authentic uplift, go get this book, give yourself 20 minutes -- which is all it will take you to read it -- and immerse yourself in the story of how Caleb and Anna and their father wait to see if Sarah from Maine will become their second wife and mother.

Told with the simplicity of a childr
Kimberly Erskine
When I first started reading Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah Plain and Tall I thought it was a rather strange story. It seemed strange to me that someone would write a middle grade book about a father putting an ad in the paper for a new wife/mother for his children. However, as I continued to read I realized that the book was set in a different time period – colonial times- and that this was actually a very good idea. The author has chosen to write about colonial times in order to teach younger chi ...more
Aug 31, 2008 Relyn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Relyn by: Newberry
This is my absolute favorite book. Well, OK, top 10. You know how it is with me and favorites. I have lost count of how many times I've read this little gem of a book. Every sentence is perfect and adds to the story. Each sentence has not one word or description too many. The prose is spare and perfect. The books reads like masterful storytelling instead of novel reading. I love this book!

I've lost count of how many times I have read it. Until this year, I taught it every year to my fourth grade
I love the movie for this book,so I was like I need to read the book. So I did and I loved it as much as the movie! This book will make you laugh and cry! It's just that good of a book. I really want to read all of the series. This is a good book for all ages and a great family read aloud for young kids!
Incredibly concise and understated, with so much going on between the lines. Very well written - I enjoyed it as much as my daughter.

All 5 books in this series are good, but this first one, and the final one (Grandfather's Dance) are exceptional.
Fact #1: My car is gray & I named it Seal, after Sarah's cat.
Fact #2: I am an übernerd.
Melanie Fishbane
Wonderful last line: "Papa," he called. "Papa, come quickly! Sarah has brought the sea!

David Redden
Mary (7) - I thought that it was sad that their mother died, and I think that it's sad that Sam hates every book that I pick! (Dad - He doesn't hate them, he just sometimes says he does to tease you.) I liked how um it was in the olden days so that you could learn more about the olden days. (Dad - What did you learn about the olden days from the book?) Well, they like speak different, kind of. Like, um, they call like storms "squalls." And in Maine they say "ayuh" instead of "yes."

Sam (9) - I l
Rebecca McNutt
I loved this book (and its film adaptation) as a kid. Sarah was a hard worker, a loveable and unforgettable character who changes the way Caleb and Anna see the world. An excellent novel and one of the best children's chapter books I've ever read.
this book was great i was willing to read it over and over again.
Suzanne Moore
This is a novel young readers will love since it is written from the perspective of Anna, a girl growing up during the late nineteenth century in western United States.
Anna’s mother died from complications following the birth of her little brother Caleb. The children are worried about their father after noticing he doesn’t sing anymore. Thinking about life in the late 1800s there definitely weren’t entertainment choices for kids then that there are now, and Papa’s singing was an enjoyment they
Morgan Renae
Oh gosh! This book may be the sweetest thing ever. Some strange force compelled me to pick this up, even though I previously thought I hated it. My 2nd Grade teacher had read Sarah, Plain and Tall to my class, and all I remember is being bored out of my mind.

Well, I blame that boredom on my shit attention span (which, honestly, hasn't gotten much better since 2nd Grade), because this book was GREAT. It's filled to the brim with wonderful stuff:

charcoal drawings. fluffy sheep. haircuts. the sea.
I'm just a little too old to have read this book as a child, but it's one I have heard mentioned again and again. While looking for good Summer reading for my 9 y.o. daughter, this seemed to be on every "must read" list. But when we were browsing at the bookstore and I picked it up, we were both surprised at how small this book is. My Harry Potter loving daughter thought I was crazy to suggest a book she could probably read in an hour, and I admit I agreed, thinking she was too advanced a reader ...more
Becca Buckman
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan is the winner of the Newbery Medal. MacLachlan’s book fits into the historical fiction genre of junior books. In this story, a family is saddened by the tragedy of losing their loving mother and wife. Young Anna and Caleb wished for a mother to bring back the light of songs into their life on their quiet farm. The children and father are hopeful to find what is missing in their lives when they receive a letter from plain and tall Sarah Wheaton.

a.) Re
A friend lent me this little treasure to read and am so happy I read this. I'm not sure how I missed reading this when I was much younger.

I could easily write an extensive review of this treasure, but I think this review by Mummy says everything I'd say and so much more: Mummy's Review
( ●—● ) Evelynn
This book has been sitting on my shelf for years, waiting to be read. So I finally picked it up and read it.

The writing wasn't amazing and didn't have extravagant explainations and descriptions, but I think that's what makes it such a unique and beautiful book - the plainness. Like Sarah.

Anna was relatable, Caleb was a pesky little sweetheart, Papa was quiet and yet had the definite father-figure appearance through the words. And Sarah. Sarah was plain and tall.

A very short, yet very sweet book.
Sarah Plain and Tall
Book review by, mermaid monkey

You don’t know what the country is like until you read this book!!!!

What do you think will happen with sarah? The novel is set in the midwestern United States {Kansas} during the late 19th century.
Jacob Witting, a widow farmer who is still devastated by the passing of his wife several years earlier giving birth to caleb, his son. It is too difficult to handle, Anna, Caleb, and his farm, so... he writes an ad for the newspaper, and it says “need
The boys and I really loved this one. The writing is wonderful. The passages are lyrical and descriptive. This story really illustrates in an accessible manner the way that people moved in former times. Many people, mail order brides included, just packed up and went and hoped for the best and made the best of what they found.
Heidi Landry Phelps
MacLachlan creates a story of ordinary circumstances and turns them into a living, breathing event readers can feel. She is able to reveal the characters emotions without telling us HOW they are feeling but WHAT they are feeling. By the end of the story, our heart is warmed as if we were sitting by a crackling fire.
Short and straightforward, with a plot that will appeal to children, I think this is a time the Newberry committee got it right. This book is a classic for a reason: a timeless story well written, not over ambitious with a plot that is appealing and understandable to young readers.
Isha B.
Sarah, Plain and Tall is a wonderful book. I love it. It’s a Newbery award winner book by Patricia MacLachlan.

As a new mother for Anna and Caleb arrives by train, rides a wagon to come and wears a yellow bonnet, a wonderful story is unraveled. Anna and Caleb have lost their mother and Papa has sent an advertisement in the newspaper asking for a wife. Sarah (the new wife) arrives, and everyone is nervous. They wonder if she will stay. If she does, Papa and Sarah will marry in summer, next month.
Barb G
What a lovely story. Andrew and I both enjoyed it. I read it aloud for a bedtime story. It made me cry a few tears of happiness for life and for my boys.
What a beautiful, simple book. A charming, yet real look at life settling the west, and one family who desperately needs a mother.
Jodie Greene
This is a historical fiction book about a girl, Anna, whose mother died after her brother was born. Anna, her brother, and her father live in the late 1800’s on the Kansas prairie. Anna’s father eventually puts an advertisement in the paper for a woman to be his wife and their mother. A woman from Maine, Sarah answers the ad. Sarah doesn’t know if she can live on the prairie and misses the sea. In the end, she stays and marries Anna’s father.

I recommend this book for grades 4-6. Students could p
Anna, the voice of the story, is a young girl who lives on the prairie in the 19th Century. She lives on a farm with her Papa and her brother, Caleb. Her mother died shortly after giving birth to Caleb. The story begins several years later when Papa places an ad in an Eastern newspaper for a wife. Sarah responds to his ad in a brief letter that clearly describes her intentions and character. Anna and Caleb are both delighted, Caleb more so, at the prospect of a new mother. Letters are sent by th ...more
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Patricia MacLachlan is a bestselling U.S. children's author, best known for winning the 1986 Newbery Medal for her book Sarah, Plain and Tall.

For more information, please see
More about Patricia MacLachlan...

Other Books in the Series

Sarah, Plain and Tall (5 books)
  • Skylark (Sarah, Plain and Tall #2)
  • Caleb's Story (Sarah, Plain and Tall #3)
  • More Perfect than the Moon (Sarah, Plain and Tall #4)
  • Grandfather's Dance (Sarah, Plain and Tall, #5)
Skylark (Sarah, Plain and Tall #2) Waiting for the Magic Caleb's Story (Sarah, Plain and Tall #3) All the Places to Love Kindred Souls

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