Looking at the publication date of 1985 I imagine I must have read this book when it was first published although I have no real memory of this. I have tired on a few occasions to read this book aloud to students but the first chapter does make me cry every time.
"What did I look like when I was born?' 'You didn't have any clothes on,' I told him. 'I know that,' he said ... 'And she named me Caleb,' he went on filling in the old familiar story.... 'And Mama handed me to you in the yellow blanket and said ..' He waited for me to finish the story, 'And said ..?' I sighed. 'And Mama said , 'Isn't he beautiful, Anna?' 'And I was,' Caleb finished. Caleb thought the story was over, and I didn't tell him what I really thought. He was homely and plain, and he had a terrible holler and a horrid smell. But these were not the worst of him. Mama died the next morning. That was the worst thing about Caleb."
Quoting this section from page two of this very famous book I have just noticed the blanket was yellow. This is significant because when Sarah arrives to join the family and possibly marry Pa she is wearing a yellow hat. A beautiful memory of Mama is that she sang. Anna asks Sarah in a letter if she likes to sing.
"Dear Jacob, I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall. Sarah. ... Tell them I sing..."
I think Sarah, Plain and tall resonates with readers because it has such honesty. Patricia MacLachlan based this book on a true event in her family history. There is a movie of this book but I strongly recommend reading this very short novel first. It only takes about one hour to read right through. If you enjoy Sarah, Plain and Tall you should also read Black-eyed Susan. I do wonder that I am drawn to these books about life as an early settler in America. It probably goes back to all the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder I read as a child. I simply devoured those books. There are four more books in the series about Anna and Caleb. The cover I have put here is not the same as my copy. I have the Puffin edition from England. Here is a very comprehensive set of teaching notes. I also own a cassette tape of this story read by Glenn Close. Click these links if you want to read more of the plot or a detailed review.