Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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MacLachlan, Patricia

New York : Harper & Row, 1985.
IL 3-6 RL 3.9
ISBN 0060241012

(4 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

Jacob lives on the prairie with his children. His wife had died years before when Caleb was born. Jacob decides that the children need a new mother. But how do you find a wife when you live on the prairie in the 1800's? A common practice is to place an ad in the newspapers back east and find a mail order bride. This is just what Jacob decides to do. One lady who writes back is from Maine. She tells Jacob that she is quite tall and not very pretty. She's just plain and tall. They write several times and then he invites her to visit. She agrees and decides to spend the summer. The children come to love Sarah but Jacob is not very friendly. Sarah misses the ocean terribly. When Sarah goes to town by herself, Jacob and the children are afraid that she has decided to return to Maine. Jacob realizes how much he cares for her. Will he be able to tell Sarah or will she return to Maine?

Booktalk #2

"Tell them I sing." Sarah writes at the bottom of her letter to Jacob. Sarah has agreed to stay with Jacob and his family for a visit after answering his advertisement. But, will she embrace their company or be overcome by homesickness for her brother and the sea? Sarah Plain and Tall is the historical fiction book written by Patricia MacLachian, whose own family history is the basis for this story. (Carrie Hollenback,, college student)

Booktalk #3

The death of Anna and Caleb's mother has left them devastated and lonely. Papa is now forced to raise his children on his own. The children long to have a mother figure in their lives, and Papa wishes to meet another woman. Papa places an advertisement in the paper in hope to find a new wife to be the mother to Anna and Caleb. A lady named Sarah responds to the advertisement, and she is willing to travel to meet Papa and his children. Will Sarah like Papa when she meets him? Will Anna and Caleb finally have a mother to care for them? "Sarah, Plain and Tall" is a historical fiction book written by Patricia MacLachlan. Read the book to find out what happens!  (Jessica Fabiano,, college student)

Booktalk #4

A young family living in the rolling hills of the mid-west is missing one thing, a wife and mother.  Mr. Jacob Witting informs his children he has placed an ad in the paper for a wife, he continues to reach into his pocket and unfold a letter he has received in response.  Caleb and Anna listen with excitement as they hear the word of Sara read by their father.  Individually the family and Sarah send letters back and forth describing their lives and themselves.  Sarah chooses to visit them to see what life would be like without her beloved brother and the ocean she so much adores.  Sarah is a wonderful addition to the household, but she is still so sad to be far away from her home.  She begins to take on chores and is adamant that she learn to ride a horse and that she learn to drive the wagon.  The day has finally come. Sarah now knows how to drive the wagon and insists she go to town, alone.  The children are afraid she will choose to return to the ocean she so much adores.  Night is beginning to fall and they still wait for her return.  

This book wonderfully depicts the sense of family and courage of a young woman traveling to a life unknown.  The adventures and new experiences of life on the farm are a challenge to Sarah. What will she choose ? A life by the ocean that she so dearly loves, or a life with a young family in the rolling hills?  (Stacey, K-12 student)

SUBJECTS:     Stepmothers -- Fiction
                        Frontier and pioneer life -- Fiction


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