Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan is set on a farm on the prairie in the Midwest. The Witting family, Papa, Sarah, Anna, and Caleb, love their farm and their life on the prairie, but drought now threatens that life. It has not rained for a long time, and the wells and rivers are going dry. Many of the Wittings' neighbors must leave, no matter how much they love the prairie and their lives there.
Times get hard for the Wittings during the drought. They must conserve water very carefully, and fire is a constant danger. At one point, the barn burns down. Still, it does not rain. Eventually, Papa and Sarah decide that Sarah must take the children and go to live with her aunts in Maine for a while. The story's setting changes at this point, and Maine is a green, wet place with trees and the ocean and even rain. The children and Sarah miss Papa and the prairie and their farm very much, though. Papa's letters keep coming, and he tries to offer good news, but the rain still has not fallen.
One day, though, Papa comes for his family. The rain has finally fallen on the prairie, and there is some water now and even a bit of growth in the fields. The family is reunited, and there is even a new baby on the way. Sarah realizes in the end that she belongs on the prairie just as much as Papa does, and she symbolically writes her name in the land.