Sarah, Plain and Tall X 5

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“Did you ever read the rest of the Sarah, Plain and Tall series?” Daisha had taken the discussion of our de Grummond Book Group in a different direction – not an uncommon practice in this group of book lovers. 

I had received the middle grade novel, Sarah, Plain and Tall,as an end-of-school teacher gift the year it won the Newbery Award. (The current Newbery Award winner is an excellent choice in case you ever have a teacher you want to make really happy.) Like the librarians who selected it, I fell in love with Anna’s voice as she told of the longing that she had to keep the prospective stepmother who had answered her father’s advertisement for a wife, and the ending became one of my all-time favorites – “There will be Sarah’s sea, blue and gray and green, hanging on the wall. And songs, old songs and new. And Seal with yellow eyes. And there will be Sarah, plain and tall.” 

I had read Skylark also narrated by Anna, the second in the series when Sarah and the children flee the drought on the prairie and go back to her home in Maine with the blue and gray and green of the sea and with a landscape lush rather than barren. Somehow, I had missed the other three books. Daisha said I must read them. “They’re short,” she said. With friends like this, finishing my to-be-read list of books becomes ever more doubtful.

The five came in a package deal, and I couldn’t resist. The third book, Caleb’s Story, narrated by Anna’s brother Caleb as you might guess, concerns a stranger who arrives carrying secrets and opening old wounds. The fourth, More Perfect than the Moon, is taken up by younger sister Cassie whose stories contain dreams and inventions as often as factual accounts. She continues her narrative in the final book Grandfather’s Dance.

The common thread of journal-keeping runs throughout the series set in the late nineteenth century with the irony that each writer is distinctive, yet each one carries the fine wordsmanship of author Patricia MacLachlan. Daisha piqued my interest, and I downloaded the quintet on my Kindle when I came home and began reading. I loved every word, and was glad that no matter who was narrating, central to the story there was always Sarah, plain and tall.