The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

Paper Book, 2011



Local notes

PB Spe




Boston : Sandpiper, [2011]


In 1687 in Connecticut, Kit Tyler, feeling out of place in the Puritan household of her aunt, befriends an old woman considered a witch by the community and suddenly finds herself standing trial for witchcraft.


Original publication date


Physical description

ix, 249 p.; 20 cm

User reviews

LibraryThing member ctpress
Another historical novel by Elizabeth George Speare. I was impressed by The Bronze Bow set in the times of Jesus. This one is set in colonial New England and the story deals with the Puritans, Quakers and the Salem Witch trials.

The main character Kit is an impulsive teenager who have been raised by
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her grandfather on the tropical island of Barbados. When the grandfather dies she’s forced to travel to the Connecticut Colony to live with her aunt and uncle and cousins - a strict puritan family.

Kit finds it hard to adjust to the ways of the pious puritans. Her refuge becomes the widow Hannah Tupper who live near the Blackbird Pond. She’s a Quaker and the townspeople believe her to be a witch. Kit knows better after she becomes her closest friend. She seems to understand Kit.

There’s a love interest here as well - The rich kid William is courting her - and Nat, the son of a captain, also becomes her friend.

When a deadly epidemic hits the town the people are quick to blame the “witch of Blackbird Pond” - and Kit finds herself in a dangerous situation.

Although the plot is captivating it’s more the internal world of Kit that are of most interest here. The way she has to evaluate the people around her - and make difficult choices that effects family and friends and herself.

Won the Newbery Medal in 1958.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by American author Elizabeth George Speare was published in 1958. The story is set in late 17th century New England and tells the story of 16 year old Kit Tyler who leaves her home in Barbados to come and live with her only remaining relatives in colonial New England.

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has been raised by her grandfather and is not prepared for the strict complexities of Puritan society. Although she is frequently warned to control her impulsive nature, it takes an accusation of witchcraft for her to find love and acceptance both from her family and from the young man she realizes that she loves.

Classed as a children’s novel, this senior citizen was still fully engaged by the story. The characters are well developed, the story moves quickly and the author provides a lot of information on Puritan life. Kit’s failure to conform to a restrictive lifestyle will resonate with today’s audience, and her courage and conviction make her a likeable character to read about. The Witch of Blackbird Pond has stood the test of time and still appeals today.
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LibraryThing member RosieBillings
Summary: Teenager Kit Tyler has to move from her home in Barbados to live with her only remaining family, aunt and uncle, in Puritan Connecticut in 1687. She tries to understand the new way of life but has a hard time trying to fit in.

Personal Reaction: I’m still not sure how I feel about this
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story. The historical fiction was accurate regarding the witch trials, slavery and religion during that time period. Kit is a relatable character to any student that is new, feels out of place or anyone dealing with rumors.

Classroom Extension:

1) Have a lesson regarding rumors, how they spread and how they can ruin a reputation. Playing the game telephone.

2) Use this book as a segway into a lesson about the Salem Witch Trials.
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LibraryThing member kaionvin
Kit Tyler, born and raised on a Barbados plantation, finds herself forced to live with her Puritan relatives in Connecticut after her grandfather passes away. Among these grave, hard-working, and God-loving strangers, Kit can’t help but stand out, even as she tries to understand and be accepted
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into their world. I remembered a fondness for The Witch of Blackbird Pond from grade school, just for being a historical school-assigned novel that didn't bore me to tears- so took an opportunity to reread it again.

I admire the ambition with which the story is written. Speare definitely tries to include all the 'hot-button' issues of the time: slavery, witch trials, religious freedom, and the seeds of revolution. Unfortunately these issues are often not very fleshed out and the whole novel tends to devolve into coming off rather awkwardly as fifth grade history project on 'colonial life'. (Albeit, a much better one than my own: an attempt at weaving that wasn’t quite fit enough for pot-holder status.) The events and the characters just aren't given enough room to develop normally and evolve much beyond broad character traits. I was often left feeling like whole conversations illuminating progressions in characters’ relationships were missing or assumed to have happened off-page. Focus!

As a novel purely designed to humanize history to kids and not-so-stealthily diffuse facts, it’s not terribly bad. Kit’s spunk and fish-out-of-water moments make her good audience substitute, and it’s a fairly action-packed and enjoyable read. Trading ships! Mobs! Corn-husking! Romance! Charter hiding! There are worst ways to be introduced to 1687.
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LibraryThing member ladybug74
This was a quick read for me, but a very good book. I can't believe that I never read this when I was younger because it's just the type of book that I have always enjoyed. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.
LibraryThing member cbl_tn
Teenaged Kit Tyler has left the only home she has ever known in Barbados to sail to the Puritan colony of Connecticut. She plans to surprise her Aunt Rachel, who was always spoken well of in Kit's family, but whom Kit has never met. Kit is greeted with mixed emotions by her Aunt Rachel, her Uncle
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Matthew, and her cousins, Judith and Mercy. Kit's pampered, carefree life in Barbados has not prepared her for life among the stern Puritans. She finds a place of refuge with Hannah Tupper, an elderly, nearly blind woman who lives a solitary life in a meadow outside of town. Kit's friendship with Hannah has its own risks. Hannah doesn't share the Puritans' beliefs, and because of her differences she's been labeled by some as a witch. Meanwhile, Kit has attracted the interest of two very different young men. Will the wealthy young Puritan, William Ashby, win her heart? Or will she choose sailor Nat Eaton?

I can't believe I went through my teenage years without reading this book. Somehow I missed the fact that it's historical fiction and I thought it was about the occult. The strong female characters are different enough that readers will have different favorites among them depending on the reader's personality. I felt the most affinity with Mercy, and I would count myself lucky to have her as a sister or a friend. There is food for thought for today's young women, particularly about friendship, dating, and life choices. The lessons never overshadow the story, though. It took me a while to unravel the romantic tangle. SPOILER: When it occurred to me to count the single men and single girls, I realized that they would all end up happily paired by the end of the book.

Mary Beth Hurt has done an outstanding job with the audio version. If it's been a while since you've read the book (or even if it hasn't!), the audio version would be a great way to re-familiarize yourself with this YA classic.
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LibraryThing member wordygirl39
I first read this book in Mrs. Cherry Smith's 5th Grade class in Buena Vista, Colorado, a very long time ago. Since then, I have read it every few years, usually when I'm sick with a cold. Kit Tyler's story is comfort food for little girls and pre-teens. It still captivates me some 30 years later.
LibraryThing member KatieLovett
In seventh and eighth grade, I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond seventeen times. I can't explain why, but I needed this book in junior high; something about it made those rough years easier for me. Now, years later, I still love this book. Memories of my obssession with the book color my view of it
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as an adult, but I don't think that should change how I rate and recommend it. These memories are proof of this story's power. I love this book.
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LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
I had high hopes for this one. I had read other tales by Ms. Speare and had enjoyed them. My wife and eldest daughter had told me that this book was the best of them all. So I read it--hurriedly, since my youngest needed to start reading it herself for school--and it was a good book. It just wasn't
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great. The story is about a young lass named Kit, a native of Barbados in 1687. Her parents had died when she was young and she had been raised primarily by her grandfather. But now he, too, has died and she has to move to the wilds of Connecticut to live with her aunt, her closest relative. Well, Connecticut ain't no Barbados. In addition to the obvious differences in climate, Kit finds herself an alien among a group of some of the most superstitious, narrow-minded Puritans one has ever seen. Actually, that was part of what I felt made the book a lesser effort than, say, The Bronze Bow. The characters, for the most part, are flat. The bad Puritans are all stuck up and judgemental. You know that there's going to be a showdown between them and the independent minded Kit. The romances, also, can be seen a mile away. The whole ending is quite predictable. But even though I "knew" the ending, it was fun getting to that point. This book is certainly worth checking out.
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LibraryThing member Mluke04
This is an example of historical fiction because it takes place in the New England colonies. The main character, Kit, has to learn to live like the Puritans lived and when she lets her true self and beliefs be known, she is labeled as a witch. This is what happened in the Salem Witch Trials.
Kit is
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an example of a dynamic character. When the book begins she is eager to get to New England and meet her mother's sister. However, once she arrives, she is very disappointed with the dreary environment and the dreary people. She wants to leave and return to Barbados. By the end of the novel, when Kit is given a opportunity and a good reason to leave the colony, she stays behind because of the loyalty she feels for her cousins.
Media: N/A
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LibraryThing member eatcakes
Excellent! One of my favorite classics. This book seems so real; the characters are intricately woven into the story to create a tale to remember. The ethereal qualities are mixed with the shockingly realistic truths of the time period and I've always felt like it was a great classic to introduce
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at a fairly young age and re-introduce several times throughout the life span. There are new things to learn and understand during different times in your life.
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LibraryThing member kpickett
When Kit moves to live with her Aunt and Uncle in a puritan colony in Connecticut, she has trouble adjusting. In the Caribbean, Kit swam, wore silks and was encouraged to ask questions of her elders. In the Puritan community Kit is quickly regarded as strange and as she befriends an old Quaker
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woman who is known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, Kit has to defend her life from her town.
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LibraryThing member sgerbic
Reviewed April 2007

Picked this up on a whim, I thought I had read it as a child but once I started reading it I couldn't remember reading it before. The story of Kat Turner during the colonial period is a familiar one, the threat of witchcraft is a terrifying one. How to dispel the charges that
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needed no proof? Kat got away from it but what about the next person? I would like to think girls reading this book would think about the accusations and what is good evidence. This book is almost exactly a "Dear America" book only without the diary format or a epilogue. I would have liked the author to describe bleedings in some detail as it is an important part of history and again it might open a young girls eyes to history and the medical world. I would love to read this book alongside a young woman and discuss ideas raised in the book.

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LibraryThing member nzfj
Library Thing Part C # 2 Historical Fiction
Speare, Elizabeth George. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. New York, NY: Dell Pub., 1987. Print

Kit Tyler was raised in the life of comfort, wealth, education and a strong sense of British culture. She was born on her grandfather’s plantation in the West
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Indies in Barbados . Her entire worldview drastically changes after her beloved grandfather/parent dies and leaves her in great debt. Kit is forced to sell everything and sail to Wetherfield, one of the first Puritan Connecticut colonies. Her only remaining relative, her Mother’s sister, Aunt Rachel, has married a Puritan and raised two daughters about Kit’s age. This novel presents life in the early colonial days in the late 1600’s. Because the author has chosen her setting from actual historical places, provided accurate geographical details, shown the reader their daily diet, their rough clothing, and daily chores, sailing, life at sea, and skills necessary for survival; the reader is able to easily step back in time and feel a stark difference between the early American experience and culture v.s. the present American culture, attitude and belief systems.
Kit’s pride, spontaneity, and independent thinking is eventually toned down as she learns to cope with prejudice, family, and relationships, honesty, and religious beliefs. This novel not only sets the stage for the coming Revolutionary War, and slavery issues, but also takes us into a pre-trial and investigation for witchcraft. In the mist of all the serious grim and hard life, the colonials still fall in love and want a secure family life and livelihood. The character dialog, the towns system of punishment, banishment and the relationships Kit has with each character, continually highlights her different upbringing and her different perspectives from the Wetherfield community. The reader identifies with Kit and thus gains needed background knowledge for American History and for confronting and adapting to major changes in one’s environment. Intended audience is 4th grade to middle school and 9th grade. Curriculum connection is language arts and social studies. A must have for all school libraries.
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LibraryThing member CrestBaptistChurch
This was great. It's about life back in the 1600's in Conneticut. It told of the life and times their quite vividly. It's a precious love story.
LibraryThing member Omrythea
This classic book gives a compelling account of life during the time of the Salem Witch Trials. Though written long ago, it is still intense and haunting to today's readers.
LibraryThing member bjscheuter
One of my favorite books as a child. I still enjoy the story and reading about facing challenges and how to overcome.
LibraryThing member readingrat
An interesting YA historical fiction that provides the reader with a glimpse into Puritan life.
LibraryThing member callista83
I thought this book was quite good. It’s the story of Kit Tyler, a teenage girl who leaves her home in Barbados to come live with her Puritan relatives in the Connecticut Colony. You can imagine the culture shock and she feels alone until she meets a mysterious woman known as the Witch of
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Blackbird Pond and when their friendship is discovered, Kit is accused of witchcraft herself.

I didn’t pay attention in History class much so I both learned about life in the 1680’s and at the same time, became confused about things because I didn’t know much. I wish the book had explained certain terms just in case readers don’t know what they mean. E.g. Puritans, Royalists etc…

The book shows how non-conformists were thought of as witches in those days and that those they accused of witchcraft, weren’t necessarily practicing any magical art. I enjoyed the book and can see why it received the Newbery.
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LibraryThing member carissa8402
I read this when I was a child, and I still love it.
LibraryThing member swimr23
This is a story of Kit Tyler, a teenage girl who leaves her home in Barbados to come live with her Puritan relatives in the Connecticut Colony. You can imagine the culture shock and she feels alone until she meets a mysterious woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond and when their friendship is
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discovered, Kit is accused of witchcraft herself.
I didn’t pay attention in History class much so I both learned about life in the 1680’s and at the same time, became confused about things because I didn’t know much. I wish the book had explained certain terms just in case readers don’t know what they mean. E.g. Puritans, Royalists etc…The book shows how non-conformists were thought of as witches in those days and that those they accused of witchcraft, weren’t necessarily practicing any magical art. I enjoyed the book and can see why it received the Newbery.
I would use this book with an older class during a history class on the 1600's. I would use this book and have them read it and then do a report of what it would be like in a day during that time period. I would also use this with a class going over halloween time. I would use it as a reading time for the whole class and read it out loud to the class and then discuss each chapter.
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LibraryThing member caltstatt
Kit is a young teenage girl who has lived her whole life in Barbados and yet finds herself on a ship bound for Connecticut because her grandfather died and there was no one else to care for her. This is a time period just before the Revolutionary War. The people in the area where Kit is headed do
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not take to those who are different, whether it be religion or behavior. Everyone is poor and everyone attends the same church. Kit has a tough time trying to tame her vivacious spirit, until she meets a Quaker woman who is known by others as the "Witch." Kit becomes friends with this woman and another boy whom she met on the ship who also comes to visit the elderly woman. The Quaker woman lives next to a swamp called Blackbird Pond. Kit is forbidden to go there, but is drawn all the same. She is met with several difficult circumstance within the family of her aunt. When many people begin getting sick in the village, the people begin to blame the Witch and set out to destroy her. Kit saves the woman, but not her house from being burned. Nat, the young sailor boy, takes Hannah, the "Witch," with him on his ship, but Kit is arrested. Things look pretty bleak for Kit until Nat returns with another of their young friends and proves Kit's innocence of witchcraft. The story has a happy ending for everyone in Kit's new family including her.
This story was an eye-opener for me. I suppose I always thought the people living in "new" America were open-minded. Having read this, I see that this book probably tells a pretty close version of how people lived their lives. I have always heard of the Salem Witch Trials, but I never thought this sort of thinking took place on the East coast during this time period. I enjoyed reading this book and will always remember it's story.
I think this story would be especially appropriate for a girl's reading class that we have at my school. I am going to recommend it to the teacher. Girls would enjoy it more and therefore get more out of the book. They could research this time period while reading the book to see how much of this really happened in history. The girls could also see how unwillingness to accept new things or people can be devastating to these new people.
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LibraryThing member katitefft
The Witch of Blackbird Pond is a great example of historical fiction because it brings together the historical facts about the New England witch trials of the late 1600's with the fictitious story of Kit Tyler, a girl that travels from Barbados to Connecticut to stay with her last living relatives.
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As the author shares with us at the end of the book, many of the characters in this story were actually real people that lived in Connecticut during the time that this story takes place. The styles of houses and buildings mentioned in this book can still be seen in New England today, specifically in the various towns visited throughout the story. The plot for this story is not intricate, but still well developed. The reader follows Kit as she travels to Connecticut, adjusts to a new way of life in New England, befriends the Quaker societal outcast, and is eventually accused of witchcraft just like her new friend. While it takes almost the entire book to reach the climax of the story, the resolution is heartwarming and leaves the reader satisfied.
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LibraryThing member kyoder06
Age Appropriateness: Middle School (possibly 4th and 5th)
Media: N/A
Genre: Historical Fiction

This is a great example of a historical fiction novel. It recounts some of the common fears of the time about witches. The setting of this story is accurate because all over the colonies at that time
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accusations were being thrown around and innocent people were being attacked. The realistic setting adds validity and pulls the reader further in. The main character, Kit Tyler, is most definitely a round character. We follow her throughout the story and watch her mature and grow in a new and unfamiliar environment. America was much different than her homeland and her attitudes and beliefs ostracized her from the rest of the group. We see her being shut out and accused of being a witch. I think this story deals with some tough themes, making it appropriate for the older grades like middle school, maybe even 4th and 5th. This novel provides a great insight into the life of those days in the colonies.
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LibraryThing member terrence.mckimmie
Kit traveld from Barbados to come to New England. Her parents died when she was young and her grandpa lost all his money. He decided to live with her aunt. When she got there Aunt Rachel, Uncle Matthew, Mercy, and Judith were all shocked. Her arrival was unexpected. She learned that she was not
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going to fit in to this new enviornment. Soon after a few sadining events, she goes to the meadows and meats "Witch" Hannah Tupper.

I was really reluctaint to reading this book. I thought that this book was silly and that only girls would want to read it. My teacher made the whole class read it. I soon realized that i really enjoyed this book. I would recommend this book to drama fans. This book shows who dogmatic Americans can be. It shows their real charcater.
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