OPEN GIVEAWAYS

None at this time. Check back soon!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare


TITLE: The Witch of Blackbird Pond

AUTHOR: Elizabeth George Speare 
PUBLISHER: Random House Children's Books
DATE OF PUBLICATION: May 15, 1978 (first published 1958)
FORMAT: Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Classics
ISBN:
978-0440995777

SYNOPSIS:

Orphaned Kit Tyler knows, as she gazes for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean island she left behind. In her relatives' stern Puritan community, she feels like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world, a bird that is now caged and lonely. The only place where Kit feels completely free is in the meadows, where she enjoys the company of the old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and on occasion, her young sailor friend Nat. But when Kit's friendship with the "witch" is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger. She herself is accused of witchcraft!

MY REVIEW: 
 
I read this book aloud to my children, which won the 1959 Newbery Medal. The story takes place in 1687.

Katherine “Kit” Tyler lived with her grandfather in Barbados on his large plantation. When he died, Kit sold everything to pay the workers and to not leave any debt. Unfortunately, that left her with nothing. She decided to travel by ship to Connecticut to live with her aunt and uncle.

When Kit arrives, she learns that things are very different in the Puritan settlement than she is used to. It is hard for her to become used to this way of life, but she manages because she is a strong and fiercely determined girl!

Kit becomes friends with an old woman named Hannah, who has been ostracized by the Puritan community because she is a Quaker. The Puritans call her “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.” Kit feels a sort of kinship with her and, even though she has been forbidden by her uncle, she visits Hannah as often as she can. The only other person to be brave enough to visit Hannah is Nat Eaton, a sailor who brings goods to Hannah whenever he returns to the settlement. Hannah found Nat in the meadow by her house when he was a young boy in the same manner that she found Kit: sobbing! Just as she had done with Kit, she had invited Nat back to her home for some blueberry cake and to cuddle her cats. The kindly woman was, and continues to be, such a comfort to him!

In the meadow by Blackbird Pond, Kit finds a young girl named Prudence. Just as Hannah had done to her, Kit invites Prudence back to Hannah’s house explaining that it is a safe and loving place for her to visit. Kit was taught by her grandfather to read, although it was practically unheard of at that time for a girl to have learned this important skill. She taught Prudence not only how to read but also to write in cursive.

When sickness befalls the community and the children start dying, the residents decide that the Witch must be to blame! Kit risks everything to get to Hannah’s house before the mob, and she and Hannah hide in the bushes watching while the mob burns down her house and searches for her. Luckily, Nat’s boat returns the following morning and he takes Hannah aboard and brings her to live with his aunt in a town where she will be safe.

Although Hannah escaped safely, Kit was arrested for helping and consorting with a witch and was accused of even being a witch herself! Who will come to Kit’s defense?

We loved this book! Kit is a fabulous character. She faces adversity with such admirable strength. This is our second book by Speare (we previously read The Sign of the Beaver), and we love that Speare’s protagonists are non-judgmental and have acceptance of those who are different.

This book also inspired a lot of discussion about Puritans, Quakers, and the Salem Witch trials.

MY RATING: 5 stars!! We loved it!! Highly recommended!

This book qualifies as:

20 comments:

  1. I have a copy of this waiting to be read. Thanks for the great review! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Katy! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

      Delete
  2. Great Review!! I really want to get this one for my niece! I think she would love it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Maegan! I hope your niece will enjoy it as much as we did!

      Delete
  3. Oh I can't wait to get a copy. From your review i'm quite sure I shall love it. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you will love it, Wendy! Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. I love that cover! Much better than the one I own (published in the '90s).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Leah. I much prefer this cover to the older ones.

      Delete
  5. This was one of the books I read back in the mid 70's when I was in 4th grade & it's been a favorite ever since.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Kathryn. I don't recall having read this one when I was young, but I'm glad I got a chance to read it now!

      Delete
  6. Hi Darlene, this is also perfect for the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge - I remembered you signing up for the challenge that we're hosting over at GatheringBooks. You might want to include this in our February database - the linky for this month is already up: http://main.gatheringbooks.org/?page_id=246

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Myra. For some reason, I thought that only books that received an award in 2012 were eligible. Yay! I'll add it to the linky.

      Delete
  7. @Katy, @Maegan, @Wendy Ewurum: I highly recommend it if you like historical fiction!

    @Leah: I agree, I really like this one much better than the old one!

    @Kathryn: I didn't realize this one in school, but I'm glad that I had a chance to enjoy it now with my kids.

    @Myra: For some reason, I thought that only books that received an award in 2012 were eligible. Yay! I'll add it to the linky.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm glad you and your children enjoyed it so much!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, Shelleyrae! Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  9. It's a good early chapter book to begin to talk about inclusion and exclusion along with fear-based acts of violence. As you said you did, I too love Speare's book, old though they are. Happy that others are still reading them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Linda at teacherdance! We love Speare's books, and I often try to scope out the "classics" for my kids.

      Delete
  10. I read this book in second grade, and it became my favorite! :)
    I can't wait for The Witch of Blackbird Pond movie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, @thetimetraveler! I had no idea that it was being made into a movie! I'll keep an eye out for it, thanks!

      Delete
  11. I love this book, too. :)
    Thanks for the nice review!

    ReplyDelete

Copyright 2012 Darlene's Book Blog Design by Parajunkee Design