Sara, daughter of a rich miner from India, comes to Miss Minchin's girls school in London. Sara knows a lot, speaks French perfectly - she immediately becomes the best student. She helps everybody and loves everybody, from little Lottie who is too young for school and desperately needs a mother, to the servants-children Becky and Peter, who are not considered people at all. But the most important thing is Sara's riches - which make her Miss Minchin's representative and evoke the mortal jelousy of Lavinia, the ex-favourite. When word comes that Sara's father has suddenly died bunkrupted, Sara becomes a penniless orphan. Miss Minchin, scared that throwing the girl out will ruin her school's reputation, lets Sara stay, making her life impossible. Sara has to do the hardest work in the kitchen, mostly hungry, with all Lavinia's hatred and Miss Minchin's despise now released at her. But Sara's spirit is not broken, and her true friends never leave her in her misery.