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

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  42,544 ratings  ·  1,323 reviews
"Did Mama sing every day?" Caleb asks his sister Anna.

"Every-single-day," she answers. "Papa sang, too."

This 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 Whe...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...more
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...more
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...more
I'd forgotten all about this gem, until I saw someone elses review on here..I loved this and so did my daughter.
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.

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...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...more
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...more
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...more
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!

this book was great i was willing to read it over and over again.
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....more
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
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...more
Evelynn {The Literary Pianist}
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...more
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.
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...more
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
Amanda Harris
Set in Kansas during frontier/pioneer times, a young girl Anna and her brother Caleb are living with their Father Jacob trying to recapture life before their mother died. Anna and Caleb's mother passed away 1 day after Caleb was born leaving them motherless. Now that Caleb is a little older, their father Jacob, puts an ad in the newspaper for a wife. That's how they come to meet Sarah. Sarah is from Maine and brings excitement to their simple lives.

This is a brief story with much substance. It'...more
Stephanie Sapp
Winner of the 1985 Newbery Award, Patricia MacLachlan shares a beautifully written short historical fiction novel set in the nineteenth century. Anna and Caleb have been motherless since Caleb was born. Their father writes an advertisement for a mail-order bride to come be his wife and a mother for his children. They are delighted to learn there is a response from a young lady living in Maine. They return letters back and forth until finally it is set for her to come visit for one month. She des...more
Rachel Schoenian
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan is the book I chose for my optional novel choice. My thoughts when I was reading, was that this book was very easy to read and descriptive. I also liked how it was short novel, yet still had so much meaning of love and acceptance in it. I think the author did a very good job at trying to use different themes throughout the novel. The two major ones that stuck out in my mind were family and abandonment. I could see a child that comes from a divorced fa...more
mai ahmd
أرجوكم لا تسخروا مني إني أحب القراءة في أدب الأطفال لذلك أقوم بشراء بعضها بين الوقت والآخر لتزجية الوقت
كما إن هذه الرواية الصغيرة حصلت على جائزة نيوبري الأمريكية لأدب الأطفال
وهي تحكي قصة أسرة تعيش في مزرعة والأسرة تتكون من الطفل كاليب أخته الصغيرة ووالده
الأسرة لم تعد تغني بعد وفاة الأم :(
ينشر الأب إعلان في جريدة طلب زواج ويتلقى رسالة سارة
التي وصفت نفسها بأنها ( فارعة الطول متوسطة الجمال )
وطلبت منه أن يخبر ابناءه بأنها تستطيع أن تغني
سارة تنتقل للعيش مع أسرة كاليب في فترة تجريبية يفترض أنها ت...more
Esther Barajikian
"Sarah Plain and Tall," written by Patricia MacLachlan is an historical fiction book written for intermediate readers. This award-winning book (John Newbery Medal) is written from the perspective of Anna, a little girl who is growing up in the early days of life on the American plains. The story provides a glimpse into the life of a small family of three, who has lost a mother to a premature death. Sarah arrives as a sort of "mail-order" bride and begins to make her way into the hearts of Anna,...more
Becky Ginther
This is a rather simple children's book, but it is sweet. Anna and Caleb are excited when their father tells that that he put out an advertisement saying that he is looking for a wife - and someone has responded. Sarah comes to them from Maine, and she is immediately a hit with the family. However, the children fear that she may leave and not return because of her homesickness. She constantly talks about Maine and how much she misses the sea.

This is a pretty straightforward, short book. There is...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...
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“There is always something to miss, no matter where you are.” 45 likes
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