Sarah, Plain and Tall

Sarah, Plain and Tall kicks off The Quiver of Arrows program that I am doing with my 1st/2nd grader this year.  I had just purchased the guide and started reading it when my daughter came downstairs and announced she wanted to do more “school schedule.”  She wants me to plan every minute of her lesson time for her, and that is not going to work for me.  However, I can happily accommodate her request for reading assignments and copy work using this book.  Moreover, this box is just for her (not for my son).

This tiny novel is a sweet story set during the homesteading era of the US.  Neither date nor location is specified by the book.  In the story, Jacob, a widower, puts forth an advertisement for a new wife and mother for his children, Anna and Caleb.  The tension in the book comes from wondering if Sarah, who responds to the ad, will like them enough (and not miss Maine too much) to stay and marry Jacob.

The book is slim and easy to pre-read (it took me about an hour to read while writing discussion  points on post-its).  One of the first things encountered in the book is the letter writing back and forth between Sarah and the children and their father.  My daughter has one penpal, and she loves to write. I’m including cute stationary in this box to encourage her to write more letters. I wanted to find one with lines on it, but my local selection has been slim and many of the sets on Amazon received poor reviews.  So I chose this beautiful, floral-themed set which, thankfully, coordinates well with other box items.  Other stationary type items that I could have included (if we didn’t already own them) would be a sketch book and some charcoal pencils.  Sarah uses real charcoal to draw in the book, but I prefer not to deal with that kind of mess.  If you don’t think your kids will use the charcoal pencils, colored pencils are another great option.  We recommend Prang for good quality at a reasonable price.

Every box tends to have one large item in it, one extra-special thing.  Oftentimes, this is a game.  But for this Box, I wanted to get my crafty, beauty-loving daughter a flower pressing kit.  Sarah misses the flowers from Maine, but learns to love the Plains’ varieties.  She picks and dries wild roses to have through the winter.  Flower pressers can be pricier than I had imagined, but I found this kit that is geared towards kids for about the amount of a board game.  I still like to include a game, and I found this “Go Fish” type game that helps to teach flower classification.

In the book, Anna is especially keen to know if Sarah can cook.  One meal mentioned is a basic dinner of stew and bread.  My daughter has long been wanting to “add baking to school.”  In light of that, I plan to use this sourdough starter recipe to trying baking our own bread.  This is a compromise for our family since we usually avoid wheat; but we also try to eat fermented things, so I am willing to see how we feel after adding this to our meal plans.

This is a small box for a small book, but I’m happy with my selections.  I had thought about extending the learning into lessons on various plant zones (to explain why the flowers in Maine are different from on the prairie) or adding in a coloring book of sea birds,  However, I couldn’t find any child-friendly  explanations of plant zones (if you know of any, please share!) and I reflected on the vast quantity of uncolored pages we currently have.  So I am keeping it simple with book.  We will also probably cover some history and other relevant topics when we read Caddie Woodlawn, the next Arrow book I’m planning for my son.

I always enjoy watching the movie (if there is one) when we are done with the book.  However, I cannot seem to find a copy of it anywhere!  Amazon sells the full series collection, but it’s more than I care to spend for this box.  It isn’t available through Prime rental or, and my library doesn’t have a copy either!  Maybe your library or streaming services will have it.  It’s a shame for us because I do remember enjoying the film (with Glenn Close and Christopher Walken) as a child.

What would you add to this box?  Comment below!


2 thoughts on “Sarah, Plain and Tall

Add yours

  1. Erin,

    🙂 Always love reading these!

    Avoid wheat by using spelt flour. I bake with it and love the texture and flavor. It is coarser and drier than wheat, so you may need to seek out a recipe. I found this but have not tried…

    and the movie is on youtube:

    Burpee seeds has an interactive map for plant hardiness zones:



    1. Marcia, thank you for sharing those links! I’m definitely checking out the spelt, which I just ran through Google and discovered is called “Dinkel” here in Germany. I had always thought that was just a kind of wheat flour. And I can pull up the plant zones to show while we read that chapter. Great suggestions!


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