Mother/Daughter Book Club: Sarah, Plain and Tall

Book Review:

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan takes place in the late nineteenth century. Anna and Caleb Wheaton wait in anticipation when they learn that a woman, Sarah, is coming to stay with them in response to their father’s advertisement for a wife and mother. This book is short, an easy read, and yet packs a powerful punch. The language is beautiful and descriptive, and the character development is amazing.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why is Anna uncomfortable around Caleb? Why does she associate him with her mother's death? Is it fair that she thinks of her mother's death when she thinks of Caleb?

2. Sarah is lonely, but she has turned down marriage proposals before answering Papa's advertisement. Why would she come to live with strangers on the prairie if there are men in Maine who want to marry her?

3. Why is it important that Sarah sings "Sumer Is Icumen In"?

4. Why is it such a shock to Sarah to find the dead sheep?

5. Sarah teaches Anna and Caleb how to swim. How does this affect their growing relationship?

6. Maggie, a neighbor's wife, teaches Sarah that "there are always things to miss, no matter where you are." Maggie, Sarah, and Anna all miss something.

What does each miss? What does this tell the readers about each character?

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7. How does Sarah bring the sea to Papa, Anna, and Caleb?

8. If you were Sarah, would you stay on the farm or go back to Maine?

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Food Ideas:

(See the activity below) plus a fruit/veggie tray


My friend had the girls make homemade bread and butter. She had already made the dough (she made scones, so cooking time was quicker) and the girls rolled it out and shaped it. Then she put whipping cream in a small glass jar and the girls took turns shaking the jar. After about twenty minutes, the cream turned to butter. It was fun and delicious!