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

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  58,938 Ratings  ·  1,950 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 Eggs
Jan 11, 2012 Petra Eggs rated it it was amazing
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-good looking, 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
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This is really a lovely little story, beautifully told, deceptively simple, full of hope and fear and love. Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal (one the shortest books ever to win that award), was written in 1985 but feels like something from a much earlier time. It could have been written 80 or 100 years ago, but it's timeless.

It's based on a true story about the author's ancestors; I'd love to know more about the original story but there's not a lot out there, at least that I'v
...more
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
...more
Hilary
Mar 06, 2017 Hilary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was lovely, almost 5 stars, just too short, we wanted more details of day to day life and felt we didn't really get to know the characters as well as we would have liked to. The story describes how a young family who are suffering the loss of the mother following childbirth a few years previously meets someone new who comes in to their lives as a potential wife/mother. The description of the the book says that the father advertises for a wife, I think describing Sarah as a mail-order wife a ...more
Kellyn Roth
This is a sweet story that I loved when I read it as a small child and loved again when I read it a year or two ago. It's really simple and easy to understand, but there are subtle things that I didn't catch when I was little that I caught when I read it more recently ... so I think it's good for all ages, not just children. :)
Adrienne
Aug 26, 2009 Adrienne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
I'd forgotten all about this gem, until I saw someone elses review on here..I loved this and so did my daughter.
David
Sep 05, 2009 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-lit
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 development...no 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
Julie
Fact #1: My car is gray & I named it Seal, after Sarah's cat.
Fact #2: I am an übernerd.
Relyn
Aug 31, 2008 Relyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers, parents, students
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
Mark
Mar 22, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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
Emily
Jun 28, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aj Sterkel
If you’ve ever taken a children’s literature class, chances are you’ve seen this book. If you’ve taken a lot of children literature classes, you’ve probably seen this book more than once. It’s a beloved classic. I’ve heard so much about it that I decided it was time for me to read it.

My reaction upon finishing it: “Um . . . okay?”

Sarah, Plain and Tall is a short chapter book that is set in the 1800s and narrated by a child named Anna. Anna’s mother died giving birth to Anna’s brother, Caleb. One
...more
Marklessgirl
May 28, 2015 Marklessgirl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Shannon
Dec 03, 2008 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nelleke Plouffe
I just read this aloud to my 7, 5, and 3 year old boys. Every one of them loved it. I liked the short chapters for bed-time reading aloud.
Mo
This was one of the rare instances when the movie was better than the book. Glenn Close was masterful.
Melanie Fishbane
Mar 13, 2011 Melanie Fishbane rated it it was amazing
Wonderful last line: "Papa," he called. "Papa, come quickly! Sarah has brought the sea!

Jenna
Feb 07, 2017 Jenna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
I was assigned to read this slim little book in school when I was small, but I only skimmed it back then, since at that age I had no patience for books that weren't overtly romantic (a la Jane Eyre) or ostentatiously clever (a la Alice Through the Looking Glass). Many quality children's books are this way: we aren't emotionally ready for them when they're foisted on us in childhood; we can only appreciate them when we're older, when we've experienced all the different flavors of loneliness. Only ...more
Jennifer
Mar 17, 2017 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic literature remains and endures through time. Sarah, Plain and Tall is one of those classics that will endure. Written in a simple style that imitates the simple life people lived while farming the frontier of America, this book is a poignant reminder of the hardships endured by families in that era. It touches on lives affected by death, by loss, by separation. It shows a young boy worried about new separation. And it shows how a grown woman deals with separation in her own way. Beautifu ...more
Morgan
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
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
David Redden
Nov 11, 2013 David Redden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Lucy
Jul 08, 2008 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book was great i was willing to read it over and over again.
Elsabet
I love this book so much. It's so short and sweet and it's full of memories. I've read this book so many times. But before I always identified with Anna. Anna, the big sister who had to help her papa. This year I identify with Sarah. Sarah who left her beloved home. I understand Sarah far better this time through now that I am homesick too. It's such a lovely story. I'm glad I read it today.
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
...more
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.
Heidi Landry Phelps
Jul 04, 2011 Heidi Landry Phelps rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
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.
Kayla Edwards
I really enjoyed revisiting this childhood favorite. I'm currently using it in my fourth grade girls book club and they really seem to like it (though some were a little reluctant at first). It has certainly started some awesome discussions thus far - I haven't needed the discussion starters I printed out yet!
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Patricia MacLachlan was born on the prairie, and to this day carries a small bag of prairie dirt with her wherever she goes to remind her of what she knew first. She is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal; its sequels, Skylark and Caleb's Story; and Three Names, illustrated by Mike Wimmer. She lives in western Massach ...more
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)

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“There is always something to miss, no matter where you are.” 56 likes
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