Sarah, Plain and Tall


Sarah, Plain and Tall is a children's book written by Patricia MacLachlan, and the winner of the 1986 Newbery Medal, the 1986 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the 1986 Golden Kite Award. It explores themes of loneliness, abandonment, and coping with change.

The novel is set in the western United States during the late 19th century. Jacob Witting, a widowed farmer who is still saddened by the death of his wife during childbirth several years earlier, finds that the task of taking care of his farm and two children, Anna and Caleb, is too difficult to handle alone. He writes an ad in the newspaper for a mail-order bride. Sarah, from Maine, answers his ad and travels out to become his wife. There are five books in this series about the Witting family. The titles in order are Sarah, Plain and Tall; Skylark; Caleb's Story; More Perfect Than the Moon; and Grandfather's Dance.

The first three books — Sarah, Plain and Tall; Skylark; and Caleb's Story — were the basis for three television movies. These movies are titled Sarah, Plain and Tall; Skylark; and Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End. The screenplay for each movie was written by MacLachlan. All three movies, starring Glenn Close and Christopher Walken, have the same actors playing the roles of Sarah, Jacob, Anna, and Caleb.

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