Friday, March 12, 2010
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
A Newberry Medal winner, this book was recommended to me as a classic in children's literature and I really enjoyed the story.
Set in the late 17th century the story is about Kit Tyler, an independent and confident young lady (age 16) who travels from a relatively carefree life in Barbados to an Aunt who resides in cold and bleak Connecticut.
Having come from a life where she had been free to do as she wished, never expected to work and with a personal servant who had been with her since childhood, Kit finds her Aunt and Uncle's Puritan household to be overly strict and she can't help but rebel against the rules and restrictions they expect her to follow as a member of their family.
Kit is constantly at conflict with her Uncle and the expectations of the community's Puritan beliefs. After one such conflict she escapes the confines of the house to the peaceful meadows outside of the town. An old quaker widow, Hannah, lives there and all are warned to stay away as there are suspicions the woman could be a witch. However Kit finds comfort with Hannah who seems to have a calming influence on her and makes the rest of her life more bearable.
There are young men in Kit's life - the keen suitor William, the annoying but good looking sailor, Nat, and a divinity student John who is one of the few people she feels able to talk to beside her cousins Mercy and Judith.
As she has been well educated, Kit helps Mercy in 'the dame school' and befriends a little girl, Prudence, who she met on the last leg of her voyage and who is somewhat dazzled by the capable Kit. Kit works hard to overcome early objections to her by the community but her continued friendship with Hannah fuels suspicions. Combined with jealousy and fear this culminates in Kit being accused of witchcraft.
The book moves with a fast pace and there are occasions when you are filled with terror for what could happen to Kit. She is an easy character to identify with - after all, haven't we all wanted to rebel against people telling us what we can and can't do?
A great read for older children/young adults, or just the young at heart!