by Patricia MacLachlan
Book 1: Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985)
Book 2: Skylark (1994)
Book 3: Caleb’s Story, (2001)
Book 4: More Perfect Than The Moon (2004)
Book 5: Grandfather’s Dance (2006) (reviewed separately)
“Sarah loved the chickens. She clucked back to them and fed them grain. They followed her, shuffling and scratching primly in the dirt. I knew they would not be for eating.”
It’s impossible not to read the each children’s book in this timeless series. Each book is complete, yet you know there is more to learn about the family that lives on the prairie. There is a new element in every book, expanding our experience of family, acceptance, and rural life.
I did not expect to like the series, as I’m not such a big fan of ‘prairie days’ literature. However, what captured me in each children’s book of this collection was the emphasis on the emotions and feelings of the people. We live through the eyes of each child in turn, as they keep a journal. Therefore we are discovering the world as they live it.
Another strong feature of the collection as a whole is that for early (third grade especially) readers, these books are beautiful yet accessible. The chapters are not too long, the plot is relatively simple to follow. I would comment that perhaps the sentence structure in the second book was a little more complicated than I would offer to a new reader. However, as the series progresses, the language simplifies. By the time we reach Grandfather’s Dance, the writing is totally manageable for a young reader.
The stories are also simple enough to be read aloud to young ones, beginning at age 5 or 6. They hark back to a simpler time, giving us a chance to unwind and relax in the lap of family love.
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