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The Witch of Blackbird Pond Paperback – January 10, 2011
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Her arrival doesn't go as expected. Kit's uninhibited childhood in Barbados has left the sixteen-year-old wildly unprepared for life among her Puritan relatives. Her cousins covet her beautiful clothes even while her uncle looks at the bright colors and luxurious fabrics of her dresses with scorn. Kit barely recognizes her aunt, struggling to see any hint of her own mother in her aunt's weather worn face.
When she discovers a beautiful meadow near a pond, Kit finds some much needed solitude and a break in the monotonous drudgery of life with her relatives. Kit also finds an unexpected friend in Hannah Tupper, an old woman who is shunned reviled by the community for her Quaker beliefs and rumors that claim Hannah is a witch.
As she learns more about Hannah and her life by the pond Kit will have to decide what, if anything, she is willing to give up for a chance to belong in The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1958) by Elizabeth George Speare.
Have you ever had a visceral reaction to a book. The Witch of Blackbird Pond is that kind of title for me.
This Newbery award winner came to my attention after my aunt gifted me a copy from her days working at Houghton Mifflin when I was in grade school. Like a lot of books back then I motored through it, eventually donated my copy to my school library, and didn't think about it again for years. But because I became a librarian and worked briefly at a bookseller, I encountered this classic title again as an adult.
Every time I saw it on a shelf I would feel that jolt of recognition. Yes, this book was one that meant so much to me as a child. It also, if you pay attention to book editions, has had some hideous covers over the years. My most recent rediscovery of The Witch of Blackbird Pond happened when The Book Smugglers featured the book in their Decoding the Newbery series. I enjoyed reading Catherine King's thoughts (and share many of them) but what really jolted me was the cover. Because finally it was the cover I had first read so many years ago!
Finding and purchasing that edition prompted me to re-read The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I discovered a lot of the things I remembered loving when I read the story the first time: Kit's determination and perseverance not to mention her friendship with Hannah Tupper. I also love the push and pull Kit has both with her cousins and her suitors. This story is more purely historical than I remembered and Speare's writing is starkly evocative of Puritan New England.
For readers of a certain age, The Witch of Blackbird Pond needs no introduction or recommendation. Younger readers will also find a smart, character driven story. Perfect for fans of historical fictions and readers hoping to discover (or rediscover) a charming classic.
Possible Pairings: All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry, Chime by Franny Billingsley, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, Conversion by Katherine Howe, Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper, Witch Child by Celia Rees, The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni
April 4, 2017 – Started Reading
Review I loved this story as a child and I love it again now. A different take this time. It was still an adventure of a young girl (Kit) coming to live with her Puritan family all the way from a free roaming life in Barbados after her grandfather's death. Shades of Little Women show up because she also has 2 cousins--one very pretty and outgoing and the other sweet, quiet and crippled. Kit meets up with three young men who all seem to fall for her but she holds out until she actually knows who she loves (Nat). He owns a ship that travels from the Caribbean to Massachusetts yearly, so she is able to live her life in both places half the year. She finds that not all Puritans are cruel but some are and that she doesn't like long church services at least not twice a week. Nor does she like manual labor. :-) The witch in the story is , of course. not a witch. She is an Amish woman who has been shunned by all and branded a witch (literally) on her forehead. She is kind and caring and seems to take in stray and hurting people one by one. She is run out of town when a sickness runs through the village and affects many of the children...some die. So it literally becomes a "witch hunt". With the help of a friend (Nat) she gets away and finds a good and welcoming home with Kit's soon to be husband's family.
I would recommend this novel to any young reader. It packs in enough layers of real life without the added burden of tedious ideological pleading.
Even as it entertains, it provides a helpful narrative introduction to America's pre-Revolutionary life in the northeast corner of these colonies and even to some of our once-upon-a-time and enduring political dynamics. Instruction like this goes down sweetly.