Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

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Title: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Notable: Book #1 in the Sarah, Plain and Tall series; Newbery Medal winner, 1986


Anna and Caleb live on the Great Plains with their father.  Their mother died after Caleb’s birth, and their father has never quite recovered from the loss.  One day, Papa informs the children that he has advertised for a wife and a lady named Sarah has responded.  Sarah agrees to visit them on a trial basis to see if things will work out.  Anna and Caleb become attached to Sarah, but they’re terrified that she will decide to go back to her brother’s home in Maine.

My thoughts:

I read this book when I was a kid and it’s just as good today as it was back then.  It’s amazing how such a touching story can be contained in such a short book.  My copy is a mere 58 pages.

I feel so sorry for poor Anna and Caleb who are pining for a mother’s love and for their father to recover some of his joy again.  When Sarah sweeps into their lives, she’s like a breath of fresh air.  She tells them about her beloved far-off sea and the creatures who live there.  They go swimming in the cow pond, slide down a hay “dune,” and Papa teaches Sarah to ride horse and drive the wagon.  But when Sarah visits town by herself, the children worry that she won’t return.

It’s that climactic final scene when Sarah returns and reassures the family that she intends to stay, when your heartstrings are tugged the most.  I just love this touching story about loss, hope, family and new beginnings.  It’s a beautiful story.  🙂

I recommend Sarah, Plain and Tall to kids who are reading beginner chapter books, or as a poignant family read-aloud.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…




Prodigal Son by Danielle Steel

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I just got done reading another book that came off of the next-to-the-crossword-puzzle list, Prodigal Son.  I’ve never read any Danielle Steel books before, though I remember my grandma had a couple of her books lying around the house.  For some reason I thought she wrote romance novels.  Maybe she does, but this book is not one of them.

Firstly, the story is about a couple of twin brothers, Michael and Peter, and the enmity between them.  Peter, the “black sheep” decides to leave home and make a life for himself away from the slander of his brother and the disappointment of his parents.  Fast forward over a decade and the two brothers have found their niches–Michael has taken over his father’s small town medical practice, and Peter is a hot-shot on Wall Street.

With the Wall Street bust, Peter finds that he has lost everything.  To add insult to injury, his shallow wife decides to file for divorce.  At the end of his resources, Peter returns to his hometown to live in the outdated lake house that his parents left him when they died.

This is where the story starts to pick up, as Michael and Peter are thrown into the same social circles again.  At this point I could tell you how the story goes, but then I’d wreck it for you.  I won’t do that, and you’re welcome.  I’ll just say that the illness of Michael’s wife really brings the brothers’ issues to a head.  Their differences and family problems are finally resolved.  It’s not a feel-good book, even though my explanation kind of makes it sound that way.

The story plot was pretty good, but the execution was subpar.  I feel strange saying that about a book by such a popular author.  As I was reading it, it seemed like something was a little off.  As I got further into the book, I finally realized what it was.  The writing itself seemed like it wasn’t done by a professional.  If you read it, you’ll see what I’m talking about.  This is just an example of some of the awkwardness that is present throughout the book:

“And the next day Peter and the boys left for Spain.  They went to Madrid and Seville and Toledo, and then lay on a beach on the Costa Brava, and they spent the last few days in Mallorca, and they all loved it.” (p. 263)

I’m not sure if the book wasn’t proofread well, or what.  Who knows.  Anyhow, I wouldn’t recommend the book.  It was painful trying to make it all the way through.  Maybe some of her older books are better.  I’ll have to check one of them out and see.

Possible Objections:

  • Some bad language.
  • Some violence.

 Rating: 2 Stars


Until next time…