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by Verla Kay & illustrated by Ted Rand

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-399-23417-9
Publisher: Putnam

A young girl’s daily life in colonial times is filled with chores in the house and on the farm. For Sarah, it’s often with her little sister tied to her apron strings. In Pennsylvania in the early 1770s, when Sarah grows out of her one and only dress, getting a new one involves a lot of work; the sequence of tasks is arduous: washing flax, carding, combing, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and sewing. Written in staccato rhyme, the period-specific words send the reader’s eyes to the beautiful watercolor illustrations that expand the story. Rand’s (Anna the Bookbinder, p. 302, etc.) traditional style and skillful renderings of faces and fabrics embellish the text, conveying a realistic picture of the Golden Age of Homespun, but the terseness of the rhymes tends to impede the flow of the narrative. “Sarah dressing, / Bodice, snug. / Ankles showing, / Long skirt, tug. / Winding pathway, / Singing lark, / Outhouse, smelly, / Creaky, dark.” The breezy tone of the author’s note at the beginning could easily have served to tell the story in prose. It’s Rand’s research (mentioned in his acknowledgement) that really supports the historical details in his pictures. Teachers will love this attractive window on the period, which provides many threads to different aspects of the time. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)