The Witch of Blackbird Pond

By Elizabeth George Speare

Published: 1959

AR level: 5.7

AR points: 9.0

Word count: 60,027

I suggest: 5th grade+

I remember a writer friend telling me how this was one of her favorite stories. Now, when I was young, my mom was pretty wary of anything with witches and paranormal storylines, so that’s probably why I didn’t get a chance to read this (I was pretty thrilled that I was in college when the Harry Potter books came out–no one to tell me I couldn’t read those!).

But this is not a paranormal story (although I really do love well-written paranormal fare). Instead, it takes place in New England, just a few years before the Salem witch trials in 1692. Katherine, better known as Kit, must leave Barbados to live with her relatives, residents of a Puritan town. Kit’s ways are not well-received by the Puritans, and this causes trouble for her.

Faith-based and secular readers alike can appreciate this story, which doesn’t blast away at faith, just the misuse of it to control others and hinder joy and new perspectives. Although this book is over 60 years old, it still sets a good pace and has forward-thinking historical narrative that any child today can appreciate.

Here’s the description:

In this Newbery Medal–winning novel, a girl faces prejudice and accusations of witchcraft in seventeenth-century Connecticut. Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met. Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.

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