Sunday Classic – The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare)

Katherine (Kit) Tyler, fresh from Barbados, is in for a rude awakening as she shows up on the doorstep of her maternal aunt’s household in Connecticut Colony in 1685.  Friendship, hard work, love, courage, illness, courtship, threats of violence complete with angry villagers carrying torches (or at least that was my impression), and once again, love, ensue.  Kit has integrity and courage and works hard to make ethical choices in the face of personal danger.

Although I had read this classic YA historical novel as a child, I did not recognize the story at all as I revisited it just now. That’s because fifth grade Cathy skimmed over all of the political and historical references, which actually make up a surprisingly large part of the book; in fact, some of the peripheral characters are actual historical figures of the day.  

This would be good choice to read aloud to your family.  If you want to dive deeper you can talk about making good choices or follow up with some online research to learn about Connecticut Colony, as the area was known during the time depicted in the book. It would also be extremely interesting to do some digging into the history of witchcraft trials in New England.   

The story ends very neatly, almost tied up with a bow, so you could also, if you chose, talk about the author’s choices for all of the young men and women in Kit’s world. How could this story have ended differently? How might it end today? If you could write a sequel, what would the story be?

Author Elizabeth George Speare (1908-1994) also wrote several other historical novels for children. You can read more about her HERE.  (The linked article makes reference to the author’s titles being ‘mandatory reading’ in some school systems – a disturbing and uncomfortable phrase. Maybe I’ll start using it as a tag.)  I’m certain the book is available from local libraries online, but I bought the Kindle edition for $2.99, marked down from $6.99.  Not a bad price for a classic.

Read this story while sitting in a sunny window, to your self or to/with others. 

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