I found an ex-lib copy of Sarah Whitcher’s Story for sale at a local library and bought it. I remembered hearing about this book while I was homeschooling my children. The hardback version that I bought was beautifully illustrated in black and white sketches by Nora Unwin.
Last night, I sat down and read it. It is based on a real event that happened in Warren, New Hampshire in the late 1700’s. A little daughter of a pioneer family named Sarah Whitcher becomes lost in the woods outside her log home one day. Her mother and father had gone to get supplies and Sarah wanted to go with them, but was not permitted. Her older brother was to watch over her and some of the other children.
But Sarah slipped away and no one could find her by the time Mother and Father got home. In the meantime, she is playing in the woods pretending she is her mother and father. It starts to rain and she cannot find her way back to the log cabin. She ends up being protected by a mother bear who treats her like she is her bear-cub. But Sarah does not realize that it is a bear protecting her, for she thinks it is the family’s dog.
The community rallies around the Whitcher family in the attempt to find the little girl. Neighbors come from far and near to help out in the search every day for three days. Sarah’s mother is only heartened when she hears her husband tell her to trust in the Lord that Sarah would be found.
After the third day, the neighbors are ready to give up the search, for they think she will not be found alive. Mrs. Whitcher implores them to come back for one more day of searching, and so they agree.
Sarah’s parents refuse to give up hope and on that fourth day a stranger walks into the clearing saying he had dreamed three times about a little girl that was lost and in the dream was shown just where to find her. He tells them he will find her. The Whitcher’s neighbor accompanies him, but in disbelief. Astonishingly, the man walks to the spot that he saw three times in his dream and finds the little girl there.
A signal is given by gunfire that Sarah has been found and soon all the neighbors are rejoicing with the Whitcher’s. Mr. Whitcher says that He knew the Lord would help them find her somehow. At the end of the book, the stranger soon leaves but he hears the village singing praises to God as he walks away.
This is a great book for readers in elementary school. It could be read by the child alone but it also would be great for a read aloud. Emphasized within are the values of faith, family and community. It shows children how neighbors used to help each other out and worked together, something that has sadly become less and less common.
The black and white pictures are endearing, especially of the little girl Sarah. This is an older book, published in 1971 by E.F. Dutton, but it is a classic. It will help children learn about our pioneer heritage as well. I really enjoyed it, and it reminded me of my love for reading pioneer stories when I was a girl. It will be worth the time taken to share with your young readers.