Forced to leave her sunny Caribbean home for the bleak Connecticut Colony, Kit Tyler is filled with trepidation. As they sail up the river to Kit's new home, the teasing and moodiness of a young sailor named Nat doesn't help. Still, her unsinkable spirit soon bobs back up. What this spirited teenager doesn't count on, however, is how her aunt and uncle's stern Puritan community will view her. In the colonies of 1687, a girl who swims, wears silk and satin gowns, and talks back to her elders is not only headstrong, she is in grave danger of being regarded as a witch. When Kit befriends an old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, it is more than the ascetics can take: soon Kit is defending her life. Who can she count on as she confronts these angry and suspicious townspeople?
A thoroughly exciting and rewarding Newbery Medal winner and ALA Notable Children's Book, Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond brings this frightening period of witch hysteria to life. Readers will wonder at the power of the mob mentality, and the need for communities in desperate times--even current times--to find a scapegoat. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-Mary Beth Hurt gives an excellent performance in this reading of the Newbery Award-winning novel by Elizabeth George Speare (HM, 1958). The setting is the Colony of Connecticut in 1687 amid the political and religious conflicts of that day. Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler unexpectedly arrives at her aunt and uncle's doorstep and is unprepared for the new world which awaits her. Having been raised by her grandfather in Barbados, she doesn't understand the conflict between those loyal to the king and those who defend the Connecticut Charter. Unprepared for the religious intolerance and rigidity of the Puritan community, she is constantly astounding her aunt, uncle, and cousins with her dress, behavior, and ideas. She takes comfort in her secret friendship with the widow, Hannah Tupper, who has been expelled from Massachusetts because she is a Quaker and suspected of being a witch. When a deathly sickness strikes the village, first Hannah and then Kit are accused of being witches. Through these conflicts and experiences, Kit comes to know and accept herself. She learns not to make hasty judgments about people, and that there are always two sides to every conflict. There are several minor plots as well, including three romances, which help to bring this time and place to life. Hurt's use of vocal inflection and expression make this an excellent choice for listening whether as an enrichment to the social studies curriculum or purely for pleasure.Maureen Cash Moffet, St. Anne's Catholic School, Bristol, VA
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