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Sarah, Plain and Tall

Last updated Monday, January 24, 2005

Author: Patricia MacLachlan
Date of Publication: 1985
ISBN: 0060241012
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Feb. 2005

Synopsis: "I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall."
(from the publisher) A heartwarming story about two children, Anna and Caleb, whose lives are changed forever when their widowed papa advertises for a mail-order bride. Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton from Maine answers the ad and agrees to come for a month. Sarah brings gifts from the sea, a cat named Seal, and singing and laughter to the quiet house. But will she like it enough to stay? Anna and Caleb wait and wonder ... and hope.

Note to readers:
•  This is a chapter book that you may be able to finish. If not, tell the children that the book will be placed into their library if they would like to check it out and read the rest.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  There was a time before email and telephones when people wrote letters. When's the last time you wrote a letter? How would you communicate without telephones and email?
•  Ever travel anywhere? What would you miss most about this area if you left?
•  If someone you've never met before asked you to describe yourself, what would you say?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  During the book, stop before chapter 3, and discuss Sarah's arrival. How is the family feeling?
•  Where is Maine? Map it out.
•  "There are things to miss no matter where you are." What does that mean?
•  What is your earliest memory?
•  Remember the descriptions of the characters - can you picture them? What do you think they look like?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw your favorite place to be, and explain your drawing to the others.
•  Write a letter to a stranger describing yourself.

Special activities:
•  Read the rest of the book.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!