Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Reading Level: Ages 12 and up

Title: The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Author: Elizabeth George Speare

Publisher: Laurel Leaf

Publication Date: May 15, 1978

Pages: 256

From the book:
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 Summary: The Witch of Blackbird Pond opens in the year 1687 with orphaned Katherine "Kit" Tyler aboard the Dolphin on her way to Connecticut Colony. Kit has journeyed from her life-long home in Barbados to Connecticut following the death of her grandfather, which has left her alone and penniless. Her last living relative is her late mother's sister, Rachel, whom Kit has never met. Rachel and her husband have settled in the Puritan community of Connecticut and with nowhere else to go, Kit hopes that they will welcome her arrival.

Kit's unexpected arrival at her aunt's house receives a mixed welcome. Her aunt is happy to have her and welcomes her immediately. Her two cousins, Judith and Mercy, welcome her with a little apprehension, and her Uncle isn't in good spirits about Kit showing up. Over the weeks to come, Kit tries to fit into the household, but she finds it a hard thing to do. Coming from living a life of privilege in Barbados, she is unused to doing things for herself. Cooking, cleaning, weeding, spinning - all come hard to her and she feels as though she's not much help to anyone.

Kit is out of place in this new world and longs for her old life in Barbados, but things start to look up after she finds a meadow that gives her the only solace she's known since her arrival. In the meadow by Blackbird Pond lives an old Quaker woman who has been labeled "The Witch of Blackbird Pond." Kit is warned against going anywhere near the witch's little cabin, but she can't seem to stay away from the meadow. Her connection to the meadow and Blackbird Pond lead to consequences that will forever change Kit's life.

On the book: I enjoyed reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond. The story deals with trials of the time: religion, slavery, family relationships, and prejudice. Kit finds herself in the middle of an always changing world as her uncle struggles with others to preserve Connecticut's charter. There is also a love story that involves all of the younger characters in the story, making it a well intentioned yet convoluted love hexagon. Luckily, it has a fitting resolution.

Kit, in the beginning of the story is very self-involved, as most sixteen year old girls are, But as the story progresses, she experiences personal growth and becomes a more accepting and caring young woman. When she finally begins to see the importance of the people around her, the story becomes something truly meaningful. Kit's struggle with reconciling the life she once had with her new life in Connecticut was heartfelt and by the end of the book I hoped that she would find the happiness that everyone around her had. When she finally does, it was well worth the wait. The Witch of Blackbird Pond was a delight to read.

Notes: The book deals with social and religious issues of 1687 Connecticut. It contains one kiss between two characters. The suggested reading level is 12 and up. I think it is suitable for that age group.

Final thoughts: Lovely story with an underlying lesson of tolerance and acceptance. Get it, read it, share it.

1 comment:

  1. WOBP is a delight to read indeed! :)
    Have a nice day~