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Sarah, Plain and Tall

(Sarah, Plain and Tall #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  79,143 ratings  ·  2,873 reviews
This beloved 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 Wheaton comes from Maine to the prairie to answer Papa's advertisement for a wife and mother. Before
Paperback, 64 pages
Published 2001 by Houghton Mifflin (first published April 25th 1985)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Children's books, pioneer type fiction.…moreChildren's books, pioneer type fiction.(less)

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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  79,143 ratings  ·  2,873 reviews

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Petra - trying to lose weight is major deprivation
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
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. It's timeless.

It's based on a true story about the author's ancestors.* There are a lot of mail order bride romances out there, but this is one from the children's point of
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Captures the many emotions of starting a new life while still remembering the old. A short and simple yet tender and touching story.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This was lovely. I did have quotes I wanted to share, but as I read this one weeks ago, I've lost the drive to look them up. A nice addition was the notes at the end from the author which include her acceptance speech from awards the novel won. Interesting were her thoughts on the writing process, and what her children taught her along the way. I think this is a classic that does not have a lot of recognition here in Australia. Sarah, who happens to be plain and tall, comes to a farm of a widow ...more
Patricia did some amazing character development for such a short story. With this, you are in and you're out. A family lost their mother and Sarah answers an ad in the paper. They write letters back and forth. Sarah goes from Maine to the plains. The kids love Sarah. There is a big Squall to be the big piece of this book.

It was a quick, enjoyable read. If you loved Little house on the Prairie, then you need to read this too. Great for 3rd and 4th grade readers.
Rachel Aranda
3.75-4 stars

What a nice read. There was an audiobook available that was nice to read-a-long with the print book. The audiobook had music at some of the end parts and it was quite soothing to listen to.

This wasn’t the most thrilling book I’ve ever listened to but I wasn’t expecting it to be. It was supposed to soothe me and my hurting spirit. The kids telling their point of view and letting all their emotions out helped me greatly. The adults offering bits of wisdom was also a comfort. Sometimes
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers, fans of the "Little House on the Prairies"
Warm and fuzzy story told by Anna, about her father seeking a wife and mother for them and her little brother, Caleb in the 1800s. Heart-warming, short, easy, and the first of several books, I see. A simple story for kids that is appealing to adults for the underlying meaning as well as the 'plain' story.

The children have commented that their father doesn’t sing anymore. Widowed many years ago after the birth of young Caleb, Jacob realises it’s time to find a wife and mother so advertises for
I have loved this sweet story since I saw the Hallmark movie starring Glenn Close and Christopher Walken back in the early 90's. At that time, I didn't know the film is based on a book. I now have a rule that before I can watch a film adaptation, I have to read the book first. I'm a few decades late on this one....but decided to make it right and enjoy this book.

OMG.....this book is just so sweet and beautiful. I don't often read sentimental stories like this, but I'm glad I took the time to en
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Andrea Cox
by Andrea Renee Cox

Aw! This story is so sweet every time. Will I cry each time I read it? Probably. It's just that sweet. (And I'm a bit of a weeper when it comes to those types of stories.) Sarah is such a fun and spunky heroine. I love how great she is with the kids. Now I want to dig out my movie version and watch Glenn Close as Sarah, plain and tall. She always makes me smile in that role.

I was not compensated for my honest review.
Luisa Knight
I know it's hard to believe, but the book was sweeter than the movie; which, ironically, I actually wasn't expecting. The book is, after all, only 67 pages and I wasn't aware that such character development and likableness could occur in such a short span of time. But give a great author a pen and I guess magic can happen.

The characters were great! I liked the fact that Anna was on board with having Sarah come. I'm not sure why they changed that in the movie. More drama perhaps. The dialogue, wh
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“The dogs loved Sarah first.”

Years ago someone recommended this children’s book to me, and I’m sorry I waited so long to read it. Not a hint of condescension in here; just beautifully evocative simplicity.

“Gophers ran back and forth across the road, stopping to stand up and watch the wagon. Far off in a field a woodchuck ate and listened. Ate and listened.”

It’s a touching, feel-good story, but much more: strong characters, subtle emotions, a well-drawn setting, and threads of tension carrying it
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
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. :) ...more
Jun 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-for-school
I read this book 3 times, for the same reason. School.

Honestly, this book was quite good! It addressed some real world issues and can open children's eyes that we don't live in a perfect world. However, 1 star off because the plot was very slow.

And also, reading this book and analyzing it 3 times does something to

I wouldn't say this is worth a re-read, but it is definitely a must read for young children. :)
Hadas Tsury
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story, very touching.
Aug 26, 2009 rated it liked it
I'd forgotten all about this gem, until I saw someone elses review on here..I loved this and so did my daughter. ...more
Sep 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fact #1: My car is gray & I named it Seal, after Sarah's cat.
Fact #2: I am an übernerd.
Hoda Marmar
3.5 stars
This was a sweet tale about loss, love, and family.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Short and sweet. Great for 2nd-5th graders and adults like me who love stories about pioneers.
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
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it

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
Seema Rao
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A matter-of-fact woman becomes a mail order bride and changes the life of a young family. Gentle, subtle, sweet.
Jun 28, 2012 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
Becca Buckman
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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.
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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

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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