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.
A boy in a primitive tribe assumes an old man's chores, so the elder can leave to see if other men live in the world —both discover human benevolence.
Baylor successfully uses a little blue bead to show human curiosity, ambition and benevolence. The story, all in verse, begins in the present, with a blue bead tucked beside a tuft of grass. Flashback to a young cave-era boy who is captivated by an elder's burning desire to see if other men exist. The boy agrees to double his work so the man can go! Time passes. The boy's hope begins to wane. The tribe decides to move to a new hunting range. Suddenly, strangers arrive, and the men bristle with spears. What of the blue bead?
The beauty and mystery of life and art are brought together when a little girl presents lily bulbs to Emily, and in return receives a poem and a wish for understanding: "Perhaps in time they both will bloom."
Mother's piano playing captivates "Myth", the recluse across the street, who invites her to play. It's spring and the little girl has set lily bulbs on her windowsill. When Mother visits Myth, the little girl comes too, dress pockets bulging. On arrival we learn Myth's real name is Emily. Emily hides upstairs, calling down how she loves the music. Under the sound of the piano, our girl slips upstairs to give Emily a gift of two lily bulbs. Emily responds with a poem that inspiring a love of life and the World.
As they wrestle with grade school social conflicts and share a fantasy land, ten year old Jess learns from Leslie's bright character and values, until tragedy teaches him to adopt and live by those values.
Jess trained to be the fastest runner in 5th grade, but when he defended Leslie's right to run against the boys there was an unexpected result. She beat everyone. Jess saw a beauty in her gait, and she saw justice in him. As companions they deal with difficult school mates and escape to their imaginary forest kingdom of Terabithia. Jess gradually sees an approach to life brightly different from anything he had imagined. In a heart wrenching turn of events, Jess realizes what Leslie had shown him was worth sharing with those most worthy of it.
When Ernest the donkey scratches his back against the pole of a birdhouse, the resident bluebirds guide him to a tree trunk, ending the violent shaking of their home and earning his appreciation.
Just as they were waking, the bluebirds' house shook so much they were knocked about. Was it an earthquake? Chipper cautiously peered about, and saw Ernest scratching his hips against the birdhouse pole. Chipper suggests the donkey find another scratching post, The fence and the ladder would not do, but a tree trunk was found to be suitable. The grateful donkey offers soft new hay as thanks. This is a sweet, slow-moving story, with a positive message of neighborly cooperation.