The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

February 26, 2010
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The Witch of Blackbird Pond
By Elizabeth George Speare

Imagine living in 1687 on Barbados, a Caribbean island, with no chores to do, slaves to serve you, and a whole library just for you. Now, imagine having to leave such a luxurious life behind and move to a dreary, dull, and boring little house in a Connecticut colony as well as having to cook and work in the fields. This is exactly what happened to Kit Tyler, a young woman, who has to learn to deal with the challenges of friendship and loyalty. If you like a good book that keeps throwing questions at you, this book, by Elizabeth George Speare, has to be on your list. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, a Newbery Medal winner, is an amazingly suspenseful book filled with many surprises.

In this book, we follow Kit Tyler all the way from the Caribbean islands to Connecticut. Once hitting the shores of her new so-called “home”, she knows that she will never belong in such a strange place. Many people hate this wild and free tropical flower who soon withers from the “venomous glances” and the immense amount of hatred from Goodwife Cruff, a horrible woman who despises everything about Kit, and the lack of her true Caribbean environment. But along the way, she is encouraged by her friends, Nat, a proud young sailor, and Prudence, the poor young daughter of Goodwife Cruff. One day, Kit meets the mysterious Hannah Tupper, commonly known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and they form a strong, but illegal, friendship. Then, when Hannah is accused of witchcraft and put in danger, Kit comes to the rescue only to be accused of witchcraft herself! Now, when friendship and loyalty is put to the test, Kit must face her worst enemies, or be blamed for crimes she never committed. Speare keeps all her readers into the plot of the story, keeping everyone in tune with all the characters and events.

Even though this is a historical fiction novel, there is a perfect combination of fact and fiction mingled in the story. The author mixes together believable “historical” characters with a few real historical figures to help us as readers to visualize daily life and special events with amazing details. With a lot of research and maybe some note taking, Speare was able to formulate realistic sermons, trials, and punishments appropriate to the setting. On the other hand, a downside to this realistic writing is the difference in language, comparing English in 1687 to today’s words. These days, people say “you”, “your”, and “you’re” instead of the 1687 words which would include “thee”, “thy”, and “thou”. Most characters do speak in a way we can easily understand, but nearly all the written words in this story are “old-fashioned”. Even though it might be hard to read at first, you can easily get used to it and have more fun reading it. Overall, I believe that this is a book that many people will enjoy reading.

As a reader, I really liked many things about this book. First of all, I loved how the author narrates the book. She relays many of Kit’s thoughts as well as what she actually says, does, and sees. It is as if you were looking at the world through her eyes. Also, the perfect amount of details and descriptions help me to see Kit’s world the 1687 way. I can see the glamour of Kit’s upper class dresses compared to the filthy clothes of the middle class. I can also feel how embarrassing, cruel, and severe the punishments are for stealing someone else’s crops. Therefore, this is an amazingly well written book and I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a fun and descriptive book to read.

All in all, The Witch of Blackbird Pond is a great Newbery Medal winner full of surprise and suspense. Finding out that Kit left such a comfortable life behind was one curious thing, but finding out why will make you understand her situation more fully. Then, seeing her struggle to be able to do the simplest of chores, you can feel how anguished she is and how much she misses her servants, library, and glittering Caribbean Sea. So, if you want an emotional, understandable, and interesting book, The Witch of Blackbird Pond will qualify for your list. Out of a full litter of three black cats, with all three kittens together being the best, I would give Speare’s book the two cutest kittens. This book is so amazing; you’ll never be able to tear your eyes away from it. You’ll be bewitched!

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Matt H. said...
Mar. 3, 2010 at 7:48 pm
Nice!!!! :D
cambridge_scholar said...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 8:15 pm
Congrats! U 2 Arjun!
AJ_TheGreatestEver said...
Mar. 1, 2010 at 5:12 pm
nice work! it's arjun. :)
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