Sarah, Plain and Tall
by Patricia MacLachlan (J MACL)
HarperCollins, c1985, 58 pages, Grades 1 – 5
If your child loves Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books
or thinks stories about the “olden” days are cool, they’ll love Sarah, Plain
and Tall, the first in a series about the Witting family. Set in the Midwest
during the late nineteenth century, this is Anna’s story of how Sarah
Elisabeth Wheaton arrives to answer her daddy’s advertisement for a wife and
mother. Anna and her younger brother Caleb are torn between hoping Sarah can
fill the hole left by their mother and hoping that Papa will send her away,
never to return. Will Anna and Caleb find a way to be true to their mother’s
memory while letting a new woman into their lives? Will Papa be able to love
a woman seemingly so different from his beloved first wife? And if they can,
will Sarah choose to stay---or go?
I didn’t discover this book until I was an adult and when I did, I realized
I’d missed out. Filled with smiles and tears, this classic filled with heart
won the coveted children’s Newbery Medal in 1986. It was also an Illinois
Rebecca Caudill Award nominee in 1988 and inspired two Hallmark films
starring Glen Close. If you enjoy this title, don’t miss out on the rest of
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg (J KON)
Atheneum Books, c1967, 162 pages, Grades 3 – 7
What child hasn’t thought about running away from home? Well, when Claudia
Kincaid decides to run away she decides to go big! She needs money so she
enlists the help of her younger brother, Jamie, who has the financial
capital to make her dream a reality. And what is her dream? Where is she
going? The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City---somewhere safe,
comfortable, and beautiful.
It’s surprisingly easy to settle in to the museum, but soon after they
arrive, they happen upon a mystery connected to one of the great Renaissance
artists. Is the angel statue Mrs. Frankweiler sold the museum really the
work of the famous Michelangelo? Will Claudia and Jamie learn how to work
together to solve the mystery or will they kill each other in the process?
And most importantly, can they eventually find their way home?
One of my personal favorites growing up, this Newbery Award-winning title
portrays a sibling relationship that makes you smile, along with a mystery
that keeps kids guessing. And you’ll never look at a museum the same way
Other award-winning titles by E.L. Konigsburg include The View from Saturday
and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth.
[to top of second column]
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle (J LEN)
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 211 pages, Grades 5 and up
Meg Murry isn’t in a good place right now. She isn’t doing well in
school, her younger brother Charles Wallace is being bullied, and
her family hasn’t heard from Father in a long time---fueling the
gossip around town that he’s run off with another woman. Enter one
“dark and stormy night”, a new friend named Calvin and three
strangers that will help Meg make the journey of a life-time. Mrs.
Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which tell Meg that her scientist father
is in danger and soon she, Calvin and little Charles Wallace are on
a dangerous quest travelling across the stars to find him, and save
A Wrinkle in Time is one of those rare books that I love just as
much now as I did when I first read it in fourth grade. It’s a story
of precious family relationships and heart-warming friendships,
about facing fear and trusting yourself and the people you love.
It’s about forgiving others when they are not what we want them to
be, and forgiving ourselves when we fall short. The book is filled
with distinctive characters like Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs.
Which whom you can’t help but adore. Readers will be able to relate
to Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin---their challenges and
strengths---which makes following them through their adventures all
the more memorable.
If you enjoy this Newbery Award-winning novel, check out the other
titles featuring the Murray and O’Keefe families: A Wind in the
Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.
We have a graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time available at
the library for those who love graphic novels and comic books. (J
741.5973) If you’re headed on a road trip, we also have a copy of
the book on CD for you to take along! (J CD LEN)
To check out these books or to get recommendations for other great
reads, please come see us at the Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin
Lincoln Public Library District]