Sarah, Plain and Tall Series by Patricia MacLachlan

★★★★☆ (4/5)

Bidding farewell to the Whitting family. Your acquaintance and companionship has been delightful. Anna, Caleb, Cassie – you held my hand through your adventures and misadventures, penning down your innocent dreams and tribulations. You painted the prairie as if it were my home too. I reveled in your joys, basked under the hot summer sun, chased your dogs along dusty pathway, anticipated arrivals of your loved ones and consoled my sorrows with yours. Your stories are an epitome of simple, singular delights that I shall cherish for a lifetime.

A selection of my favorite passages from the book

Sarah, Plain and Tall

  • Outside, the prairie reached out and touched the places where the sky came down
  • Together we picked flowers, paintbrush and clover and prairie violets. There were buds on the wild roses that climbed up the paddock fence
  • Inside were three colored pencils. “Blue,” said Caleb slowly, “and gray. And green.” Sarah nodded. Suddenly Caleb grinned. “Papa,” he called. “Papa, come quickly! Sarah has brought the sea!”

Skylark

  • We painted the barn and tree by the cow pond, and we painted the sky just after sunset, Sarah’s favorite time. “When you can’t tell where the color comes from,” Sarah said.
  • And that night I dreamed Caleb’s dream: Papa looking for us. He could hear Sarah’s song and our voices, and he searched the fields and the house and the barn. But we weren’t there.
  • “It rained,” Papa said again, his voice so soft that it could have been the wind I heard.
  • But the prairie is home, the sky so big it takes your breath away, the land like a giant quilt tossed out

Caleb’s Story

  • “Everyone’s not a writer, Caleb,” said Anna. “But everyone can write.”
  • “You always love what you know first,” he said. “Always,” he repeated softly
  • “What worries do you have, Caleb?” I shook my head, not wanting to talk about it. I had seen Grandfather’s bag packed. I had seen Papa pass Grandfather in the hallway, neither of them speaking. I had heard Sarah’s words to Papa, the words telling him what she did not love about him
  • The winter came early and will stay longer. There will be winds and storms, but I don’t care. There is happiness here now. What Sarah told Cassie is true. Not one thing in the world is wrong.

More Perfect than the Moon

  • Summer is too hot. I can’t write. I like winter. There is something sharp about winter that makes me think. I like writing all curled up in a corner of the warm house, safe and quiet. Out here in the open there is too much space. My thoughts fly away.

Grandfather’s Dance

  • Silence filled the room. Grandfather walked out the kitchen door, slamming it behind him. Jack got up and walked to the window to look out. Caleb and I looked out, too. Outside, moonlight touched the grass and spilled over the flowers in Mama’s garden. Grandfather walked toward the barn. Then, suddenly, he stopped, lifted his shoulders, and turned around as if he knew Jack was at the window. And there, in the moonlight, Grandfather did a little dance, turning around and around, his hands in the air. Jack smiled. Grandfather smiled back at him
  • “I suppose that’s what writing is for,” said Grandfather. “To change life and make it come out the way you want it to.”

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