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Patricia MacLachlan   [Teacher Resource File]
Sarah, Plain and Tall
from the jacket….

Caleb doesn’t remember Mama, who died a day after he was born. But his older sister, Anna, says Papa and Mama sang "every-single-day." Now Papa doesn’t sing at all.

Papa places an ad in the newspaper for a wife and he receives and answer from a woman named Sarah, who lives in Maine. Caleb wants to know if Sarah snores. Anna wants to know if Sarah can braid hair and make stew and - most important of all-if she sings.

Sarah writes, "I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall." And so Caleb, Anna, and Papa wait.

Sarah comes in the spring with her cat, whom she calls Seal because she is gray like the seals that swim in the sea near her home. Everyone hopes she will stay. But Sarah misses the sea, her brother, and the "three old aunts who all squawk together like crows at dawn." When Sarah takes the wagon to town alone, Caleb and Anna worry.

What happens tells much about happiness and hope, and what it is that makes a family.


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