Monday, November 7, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Sarah, Plain and Tall

Sarah, Plain and Tall
by: Patricia MacLachlan
original copyright 1985

Happy Monday to you all! Today I would like to discuss another Newbery Medal Award winner, SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL. Yes, the first time I read it I was in grade school, but I recently read it again and noticed much more than when I read it as a middle grader.

For those who haven't read it, here's a blurb from Goodreads:

The novel is set in the midwestern United States (Kansas) during the late 19th century. Jacob Witting, a widowed farmer who is still saddened by the death of his wife several years earlier, giving birth to Caleb, finds that the task of taking care of his farm and two children, Anna and Caleb, is too difficult to handle alone. He writes an ad in the newspaper for a mail-order bride. Sarah, from Maine, answers his ad and travels out to become his wife. But Sarah grows homesick - the prairie grass didn't substitute for the Maine sea shore. When Sarah leaves for a trip into town, the kids wonder if she would come back. And she did. She had brought back colored pencils so she could show them the beautiful colors and views of Maine and gorgeous sea shore. She, Anna, Caleb, and Jacob have a lot of good times that lead to Caleb loving Sarah even more, but Anna thinks that she will replace her mother. In the end Sarah and Jacob get married.

First, although when reading it the writing style seems vague, when I finished the book I realized the details were woven in so well I didn't even notice.

Second, the main conflict is not what you would think.  Instead of the main conflict being if Sarah would take control and make Anna and Caleb miserable as their new "mom," it truly is whether or not Sarah will stay.

Third, Anna's relationship is deeply explored with all the characters, her father, Caleb and especially Sarah.

If it has been awhile since you have read SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL, I would recommend picking it up again. If you haven't read it for the first time, add it to your "to-read" list.

Have a great week!