It's April of 1687 when Kit Tyler steps on shore in Connecticut. Having recently lost her grandfather, she's come to the colonies to live with her uncle and aunt. But her new town is completely different from her old life in Barbados. Not only does she have to do the chores she used to have servants do, but her Puritan relatives are much stricter then her previous upbringing has taught her to be.
But her life isn't all bad. There is the interest William, the most eligible bachelor in town, has shown in her. And there's the refuge she's managed to find in Hannah, the town outcast suspected of being a witch. But will she ever truly adjust to her new life?
I found this book in Jr. High, and have read it four or five times since then. I recently reread it again, and was completely drawn into the story. I couldn't put it down, and I already knew how it ended. The characters are sympathetic and interesting, especially Kit. You can help but root for her to find some happiness in her new life. The plot is engrossing, with several sub-plots expertly woven through the book. And the time and place of the setting is brought to life in such an amazing way it feels like you are actually in the town of Wethersfield.
This book is so engrossing that anyone will love it. And the theme about judging others will stick with you long after you've read the last page. I can not recommend this book highly enough. Ms. Speare is an excellent author.
on July 6, 2005
The Witch of Blackbird Pond is set in Connecticut in the late 1600s. It tells the story of Kit Tyler, a 16-year-old girl who sails from Barbados to Connecticut after her grandfather passes away. Kit travels to Connecticut to live with her aunt and her aunt's family, none of who have met her and who do not know that she is coming. Connecticut was a Puritan community struggling for independence from England at this time and the culture shock is difficult for Kit, who grew up affluent and independent. The townspeople are not very welcoming to her and some believe to fear that she is a witch because she is different from them. Kit's troubles get worse when she becomes friends with an old Quaker woman people called the Witch of Blackbird Pond.
I would recommend this book for ages 10 and up. Most children have felt like they didn't fit in at some point and will be able to relate to Kit. This book teaches children about tolerance, acceptance, and not being judgmental. I would use this book in a school setting as part of a social studies curriculum. It is appropriate for discussions about witch trials, Puritan history, and Connecticut history. I would also recommend this book for pleasure reading.
on January 28, 2000
Although I am well past the age this book is intended for, I must say this is one of the finest pieces of historical fiction I have ever read.
One of the favorite books of my youth was "Calico Captive" which was also written by Elizabeth George Speare. Recently, in a fit of nostalgia, I purchased "Calico Captive" and, on a whim, I also grabbed "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" simply because it was by the same author and also set in colonial times. I felt I could use some light, escapist reading material in order to take a break from my usual heavy fare of military history books.
Anyway I started to read "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" at around 9:30 in the evening. At 2AM, I finished it. I couldn't put it down! After the first few chapters the book becomes a real page turner. I had to find out what would happen next. Would Kit ever adapt to the austere life of the Puritans? How would the situation with Prudence Cruff pan out? Would Kit marry William? Would John marry the girl he truly loved? Would Uncle Matthew ever soften? And, of course, what would happen if the Puritans found out about Kit's friendship with a suspected witch? I was just blown away by this book- one of the enjoyable reading experiences I have had in a long time.
on May 5, 2009
The Witch of Blackbird Pond may be a work of fiction, but there are many parables with modern life. It's about a white girl, from the sunny West Indies, who moves to the cold, unwelcoming colonies in New England. Her uncle, a Puritan, reluctantly takes her in. Though they treat her as good as as their own children, they're clearly not happy to have her. For starters, the Puritans are serious people, and she's used to play and leisure. The Puritans are austere and Spartan, while she's used to flamboyant luxury. The family's life is preoccupied with hunting, farming, cooking, and cleaning; the kind of stuff one has to do in order to eat. She, however, comes from a wealthy family and has never even cooked for herself.
But she learns. The family are Puritans after all, and it's their duty to teach her self-sufficiency. Soon she settles into the routine, cooking meals, cleaning, and teaching young children to read.
But Puritan life comes with a problem. The people believe in the existence of witches, and anybody who appears unusual is a suspect. Hannah, a kindly old woman who lives alone, was once a suspected witch. She has a scar on her face as a reminder of how she suffered under the Puritans' paranoia. Worse, she's a Quaker, and the Quakers are despised by the Puritans.
Faced with an inquisition-like investigation, she faces the harshness of the Colonial laws of the time. Judge's decisions are not based on codified laws, but on the religious and social mores and norms. Every single good thing she's done since arriving is suspected as an act of witchcraft and subversion.
But there is hope. As with today's legal system, success depends on getting the right advocate! Will the townspeople stand up for her and denounce the witch hunts, or will she be tortured by religious hysteria?
on November 25, 1998
A witch? Someone thinks you are a witch? When Kit leaves Barbados on the lovely Dolphin ship to live in America with her Uncle, she is unprepared for what she encounters. What a surprise when she discovers that being able to read, swim, wear fancy clothes, as well as befriending a kind old woman is odd behavior for this town. In The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Spears sends you on a reading adventure. The story includes a number of surprising and suspenseful events including a frightening witch hunt and a big outcry among some angry villagers against their government. Some parts of the story are a little boring, but the elaborate language and unpredictable moments bring you right back into the book. The climax of this book is the best part. It's unbeleivable and exciting. The main character, Kit, is very interesting. You will feel like you know her only after reading a few pages. Fiesty, wise, and stubborn are some of Kit's personality traits. You will also become very familiar with many of the other characters including Kit's two cousins, her Aunt and Uncle, Nat a seaman, and John and William two very interesting men, plus many more! This book has many hidden lessons in it. It teaches you about friendship, trust, bravery, genorosity, and happiness, It will fill you with sorrow and joy, and is a very adventurous story loved by many!
on May 10, 2002
I have noticed in recent years that there is a spurt of fiction about witches and ghosts, all written with a tongue in cheek silliness. They are the decendents of Roald Dahl and even as much as I am glad they are out there, I sometime wonder why there aren't more decendents of Frances Hodgson Burnett. Where are the sweetly serious books? This is one such decendant and more should be out there. The Witch of Blackbird Pond is an absolutely wonderful novel of historical fiction that throws early America into stark light. I read this book over and over when I was a child and though I have not read it in 15 or more years, I can still remeber the twists and turns of the plot. History is rekindled through Kit (I can still remember her name), a young emigrant just come to America to start a new life far from her natice Barbados. You see the grey winters, the hard working people whose religion shapes their daily lives, and the fear. Speare brings a small part of reality to life. And that is what is truly missing from so many modern children books. I truly recommend this book to all kids who have a thirst for the past.
Though this story of colonial Connecticut was first published in 1958 it is still a wonderful story for middle school aged students. Kit makes a spunky attractive heroine and the story illustrates colonial customs, beliefs and conflicts. And there is plenty of both adventure and romance to please all readers. A Newbery medal winner that really deserves the honor.
on October 26, 2000
This book has it all! It is a GREAT book for all readers. Set in colonial times, 1687, to be exact, Katherine (Kit) Tyler is the heroine and one of my favorites of all time! When the story opens, Kit's grandfather has just died and she must leave her sunny home in the Caribbean to go live in the Puritan colony of Connecticut. Like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong shore, Kit has trouble fitting in, though she quickly attracts the attention of the entire town with her bright silk dresses, her unusual ability to swim, and her headstrong personality. Rich, young William immediately falls for her but Kit wonders if they are meant to be together. Meanwhile, her cousin Julia is outraged with jealousy. She and Uncle Matthew make Kit's new wooden home seem even colder. Her loneliness and misery ultimately leads her to meet and befriend Widow Tupper, the Witch of Blackbird Pond. The days she spends with Widow Tupper and Nat, a sailor whom she met on her journey to Connecticut, are the ones she enjoys most. But her Aunt Rachel tells her to stay away from Widow Tupper because she's a Quaker and the whole town considers her a witch. Kit ignores the warnings and continues to visit her anyway. But quickly, she too is regarded as a witch. Kit goes to trial facing an angry town with no one to speak for her. Or is she not as alone as she thinks?
on September 27, 2006
This is one of my favorite books. I first read this book while in middle school and have re-read it so many times that I can recite some of the passages! The story of the girl who leaves her island home and must adjust to the harsh New England environment struck a chord with me, as I was a military kid and always moving from place to place. This story is about a girl who finds herself in a new environment that goes against everything she has ever learned or experienced, and she must learn who she is in order to survive this new land. It's also a romance story, and an intriguing story that shows what can happen when people become so closed-minded about what is "right" and "proper" that they refuse to look past a person's supposed subversive actions in order to really see or understand that person. Highly recommended reading.
on February 9, 2005
I had to read this book as an assignment in 6th grade. Ten years later, I have re-read it 10 times. That's right, one time for every year! That's how much the story stuck in my mind.
Rather than give away the plot, here's are a few reasons why The Witch of Blackbird Pond is so special to me, i.e. my favorite scenes:
1. I really related to Kit Tyler and I still do. It's the feeling of being out of place, of not belonging and not being accepted, of having people try to change you, and then running away and finding the meadows and making friends such as Prudence and Hannah Tupper and finally feeling at peace.
2. The scene when Kit accidently saw Mercy's love for John Holbrook and realized that Mercy loved him.
3. The scene where Kit walked out of the door and saw her hated Uncle Matthew as a lonely, defiant figure clutching the soil of his land! It was there that she first started to respect the strength within him.
4. And finally, without recounting all the sentimental parts of the book: I LOVE the character of Nat Eaton and all the scenes when Kit and Nat are together. Elizabeth George Spheres portrayed them with alot of subtle chemistry. They banter because they are, in truth, really attracted to each other. And Nat, despite his cocky attitude, really comes to Kit's rescue everytime. Coincidence? I think not!