Without the love of books the richest man is poor, but endowed with this treasure the poorest man is rich. –Leon Gutterman

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sarah, Plain and Tall

sarah plain and tallSomewhere along while back when we began homeschooling, I got the mistaken notion that the Patricia MacLachlan series starting with Sarah, Plain and Tall was for little girls. I am happy to report that I was wrong.

The Sarah, Plain and Tall series is for boys and girls and grown-ups, too. I loved every one. And to my delight, both of my boys really enjoyed the story of Sarah, who comes to live with Jacob Witting and his children on the plains of Kansas.

skylarkI have been planning on writing a review of the books and movies. Don't know what took me so long, but I finally did get around to sharing. I'm sure everyone knows about them already, but I love them so much, I'm going to share anyway.

We have read them as read alouds and as readers. The boys have read them individually and I have reread them more than once. The series includes: Sarah, Plain and Tall, Skylark, Caleb's Story, More Perfect than the Moon, and Grandfather's Dance.

caleb's storyJacob Witting is a farmer in the late 19th century and has lost his young wife when she gave birth to his son Caleb. Busy with his farm and raising Caleb and Anna his daughter, Witting has little time for any fun or merriment.

One day he realizes the children need a woman and he places an ad for a wife in a newspaper.

Sarah Wheaton from New England answers his ad and travels by train to meet the motherless family. She brings her cat Seal and stories of a land where water is as endless as the prairie.

more perfect than the moonMacLachlan uses simple and few well selected words. The volumes are slim, but every sentence is packed to overflowing with content. While the stories are definitely prose they sing in the heart like poetry.

The first two volumes are told from the perspective of Anna, the oldest daughter. The third is told from Caleb's view and and number four and five from Cassie's view.

grandfather's danceThe books are listed as readers for Grades 3-5 and that is definitely appropriate, but younger children will enjoy them as read alouds. Parents will love the stories too.

New characters join beloved characters as the story unfolds and the family grows. The story of Sarah Wheaton and Jacob Witting is a lesson in history, a lesson in growing, a lesson in living and a lesson in love.

There are three beautifully done Hallmark movies with Glenn Close as Sarah and Christopher Walken as Jacob Witting. MacLachlan was involved in the scripting of the series of films and they are true to the books.

I think the simpleness of her writing allowed the movies to be all the more wonderful. They were exactly as I had imagined them as we were reading.

The movies are family fare, no bad language or questionable scenes. If you loved Little House and Caddie Woodlawn you will love Sarah, Plain and Tall.

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