Audiobook read by Glenn Close. I would not have recognized her voice if I hadn’t known. Excellent reading, though the little boy’s dialogue is a bit shrill.

A short, sweet children’s book, spare and moving. Though it won the Newbery in 1986, it is amazingly not depressing!

Somewhere on the Great Plains, some time in the 1800s, a farmer advertises for a wife. His own wife died years ago, leaving their daughter and son motherless. Sarah, a spinster on the coast of Maine, begins corresponding with the entire family, telling them about her life, her cat, and her beloved sea. Eventually she comes to visit, to see if they all like each other well enough to become a family.

I’ve read a lot of books with the general story of “kids might be getting a new parent/parent of kids considers remarriage.” This is the only modern one I’ve ever read in which the conflict is not the children feeling ambivalent or outright hostile to the new prospective parent. The children in this novel start out with positive feelings about getting a new mother, and fall in love with Sarah. The conflict is whether Sarah, who loves the sea, can reconcile herself to a totally new environment.

This is a beautifully written, atmospheric novel. It isn’t sad, but the audiobook did bring tears to my eyes at one point. The ending is especially lovely. It has a lot of similar appeal to the Little House books, but in distilled form.

Sarah, Plain and Tall
daidoji_gisei: (Default)

From: [personal profile] daidoji_gisei

Though it won the Newbery in 1986, it is amazingly not depressing!

I find this observation depressing in and of itself!
qian: Tiny pink head of a Katamari character (Default)

From: [personal profile] qian

I remember liking this book when I read it as a kid, and a big part of it was that there wasn't conflict between the kids and Sarah. (Tiny Zen didn't like conflict! D:) But i can't remember anything else about it at all. Must reread!
genarti: Older woman sitting cross-legged on high rock, looking out into sky, text "live a life less ordinary." ([misc] live a life extraordinary)

From: [personal profile] genarti

Oh, I remember loving this book as a kid, and I'd forgotten nearly everything about it. I should reread! I'm pretty sure my parents still have it on the Children's Books Worth Keeping shelf.
sophia_helix: Margot and Richie Tenenbaum reading in the Natural History Museum (ETC: RT read)

From: [personal profile] sophia_helix

I recommend the author's The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt, which isn't just one of my favorite kids books but one of my all time favorite books, period.

From: [identity profile]

Apparently there are four sequels. And the first three books were made into TV movies starring Glenn Close and... Christopher Walken. I am having trouble reconciling Walken with the atmosphere of this book as you describe it.

(Also, the author's surname is spelled "MacLachlan.")

From: [identity profile]

no no no Walken was so good in the movies, I swear, he's sweet and unassuming and hesitant and just *rolls around*

From: [identity profile]

Intellectually, I believe you. But emotionally, well, I have only seen him in roles that are... different. IMDB says "often portraying psychologically unstable characters" - that.

From: [identity profile]

HILARIOUSLY, Sarah Plain & Tall was the first movie I saw him in, so I had no idea he had a rep for being creepy and terrifying until I saw Batman Returns. AND THEN, SUDDENLY SCREAMING

From: [identity profile]

My 12 year old niece just read and enjoyed it (she wanted a short book since she's supposed to read X number of books and her first one was a giant tome). She immediately moved onto the sequels.

Also, just saying, really much fewer than half of Newbery winners are depressing, it's just that when a depressing story is GOOD (and most of the winners are good) it really makes an impression. I'm looking at you, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA.

From: [identity profile]

I love this book and the TV movie adaptation. I'm so glad you liked it, too!

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