When her widowed father advertises for a wife, Anna anxiously watches for signs that Sarah Wheaton’s visit to their prairie farm will fulfill her hopes for family harmony.
Anna's mother died after Caleb's birth, and the singing on their isolated prairie farm ended. When Papa advertised for a wife, Sarah came to visit, from Maine. And, Sarah sang! Would Sarah stay or would she return to the sea she missed? Dialogue keeps Sarah's uncertainty explicit, but MacLachlan's use of subtle action shows a growing relationship between Papa and this new woman. The contrast creates tension and encourages deeper comprehension from young readers.
DW realizes, after all sorts of poor behavior, that she cannot reject food before trying it.
D.W. 'discovers' she doesn't like all sorts of foods, with spinach being the worst. She threw a tantrum at a restaurant when she found spinach in her salad, so her parents refused to bring her out to eat. She agreed to behave for Grandma Thora's birthday, and chose quite the surprise dinner! This story makes a small point about narrow judgments —and might be useful for parents of a picky eater.
A young girl commits three disparate errors described as sins and then in guilt finds absolution in the church, in her apology and in her family.
At her cousin’s First Communion rehearsal the narrator's shawl slips off her head, which is deemed a sin. Worse, the narrator is jealous of her cousin, and pointlessly takes a rosary from that cousin's home. Fearing Hell, and of being found out by her grandmother, she runs alone (another sin) to the church to confess. After she apologizes to family, all is deemed right. Thus, the author treats harmless accident, real theft, pointless envy & possible danger as equivalent transgressions requiring forgiveness by authority rather, without regard for rational judgment.
A fearful, family togetherness is regained, when Ida's hornpipe helps her recover her baby sister from kidnapping by grotesque, Grim-Reaper, goblin-babies.
Sad over her father's absence, Ida fails to watch her baby sister, whom the goblins steal. Leaving a sickeningly eerie, ice replica baby in the sister's place, the goblins escape through a window that displays images reflecting Ida's moods. In dreamy pursuit, Ida hears her father say, "...catch those goblins with a tune". Frenzied dancing to her hornpipe turns the goblins (also babies) into "a dancing stream". Bizarre events –she arrives in a goblin wedding– and odd phrasings make this story pointlessly freaky. Also see, Where the Wild Things Are, it is not as benign as some reviewers suggest.
This is an aboriginal warning to girls, in which Whispering Wind's innocence is taken, when a warrior charms her, steals her away to the village of the man-wolves, and 'ravages' her.
Strangely, it is 'wise' Whispering Wind whom the Warrior tricks. He transforms into a wolf-man as he abducts her to the Wolf Village. There her innocence is violently taken (in a children's book!). Mum rescues her with the help of the "Creator" and peyote. Later Whispering Wind unquestioningly resumes teaching children of the (actually unhelpful) ways of "the ancients". Whispering Wind's violent plot and man-hating theme may not be suitable for children, but may warrant study as a chic aboriginal 'myth'.