Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review of The Witch of Blackbird Pond

We just finished reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond (scheduled in SL Core D). This is one of those books that I had heard about here and there for years, with the result that I had certain ideas in my head about what it must be about. I had imagined, first of all, that it was about a scary witch living near- wait for it- a pond.  I had always imagined this book was kind of a spooky mystery/supernatural story- you know fog and dark stormy nights and ghosts and all that. So I was pretty surprised when I saw it on our SL reading list. Turns out this book is nothing like I expected. The "witch" isn't a witch at all, just a lonely old woman who is a bit eccentric and misunderstood. She does live near a pond though!

The main character of the book is Kit Tyler, who leaves her home in Barbados to live with her aunt and uncle in colonial Connecticut. This is very much a fish out of water story.  Kit has to try to fit in with many ways and customs she isn't used to. She has never had to do the hard work her aunt and cousins are accustomed to; she is used to being waited on and wearing fine dresses. As she tries to adjust to her new home she learns lessons of humility, friendship, and the value of hard work.  She also learns a great deal about herself, including what she is capable of and what she wants from her life. Lots of great lessons here.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is great for bringing this period in history to life. There were so many things mentioned in it that we had read about in our history books: the mysterious disappareance of the Connecticut Charter, the witchcraft hysteria, the conflicts between the King and the colonists, and lots and lots of details of daily life in Puritan New England. The girls in the story worked hard- cooking, gardening, carding wool, making clothes and candles, and so much more. And unlike many books where this work is "prettied up", here you could really feel their struggles and know how exhausted they must have been!

I read this book with an 11 y.o. girl and 9 y.o. boy.  I think it was best suited to my daughter. The pace was a bit slow in places, especially for a boy that prefers adventure- but I will say he understood it fine and it wasn't over his head.  I think this is one of those books you remember long after reading it. I look forward to reading it again with my younger two!

Be sure to visit Read-Aloud Thursday for more great reading ideas!

4 comments:

  1. This looks like a great book for my daughter. We are learning about the Early American period so it would go great with that.

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  2. I read this book in college. I remember virtually nothing about it other than enjoying it. Thanks for sharing it.

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  3. Elizabeth Speare is one of my favorite "old" authors. I always loved this book as a child myself. Her book The Bronze Bow is EXCELLENT if you like fiction set in Bible times. I think it's better for slightly older children though, maybe. I'd love to go back and read it again myself!

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  4. I love this book! :)
    Elizabeth George Speare is just an amazing story teller.
    I hope the movie comes out soon.

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