Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan
The ground is dry and the dust gets into everything. It hasn’t rained in so long Caleb and Anna can’t even quite remember what the rain sounds like. The crops are drying up and everyone has to be on constant watch for brush fires. Fires do happen. Things are burned. People leave because their wells dry up. Some of them will come back, but some of them never will. When the wells dry up, people haul water from the river; when the river dries up, people wonder where the water is going to come from.
After a particularly awful brush fire that destroys the barn, Sarah, Caleb, and Anna are sent away to Maine where they will stay with Sarah’s aunts until the rain comes back. Papa is going to stay to repair the barn and take care of the animals. Caleb and Anna enjoy the ocean. They enjoy the water which seems to come from nowhere, but they miss Papa. He’s there all by himself.
Papa is eventually able to send good news, that the rain has come, and everyone returns home, where Sarah learns to write her name in the land.
What I liked
I like Sarah and I also like the desperation painted in this book. It’s not a pleasant thing to think about, but children have been through some awful things with their families and books like this one introduce the idea of such disasters on a level a child can comprehend. Caleb and Anna don’t entirely understand, nor does the book expect the reader, who may be child-aged, to understand the full-effects of something as terrible as a drought to a farmer.
What I didn’t like
The story is great, but I would love to see a more grown-up version of this story. I would love to see this entire story from Sarah’s eye. I think there’s a lot more that could be spoken and pointed out from the view of an adult.
It would be nice to visit Maine.
What would you do if there was a drought? Would you stay? Would you go?
Do disasters, like droughts, affect us less or more considering our technological advancements?