Author: Elizabeth George Speare
Source: Library, Newbery Winner
Orphaned Kit Tyler knows, as she gazes for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean island she left behind. In her relatives' stern Puritan community, she feels like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world, a bird that is now caged and lonely. The only place where Kit feels completely free is in the meadows, where she enjoys the company of the old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and on occasion, her young sailor friend Nat. But when Kit's friendship with the "witch" is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger. She herself is accused of witchcraft!
Kit is a girl thrown into a world unlike any she has ever experienced before. Growing up on a tropical island, she lived a carefree and joy-filled life. When she goes to live in the Puritan Connecticut Colony, she knows things will have to be different. But how different? She can't even imagine that her friendship with the local "witch" could cost her everything.
I have always been fascinated with these stories - stories of societies that are so scared of everything that isn't just like them that they're willing to kill to silence what they don't understand. I feel like, in a lot of ways, these stories of witchcraft and witch hunts were precursors to the modern Paranormal YA genre. There are similarities - those that are different being the outcasts of their society, understanding something that makes them different, trying to fit into a different world - and those things have become staples of YA literature.
I first read The Witch of Blackbird Pond when I was a young girl. I remember liking it but not really caring a whole lot about it. When I read it again as an adult, I found myself both fascinated and disgusted that this is part of our history. Books like this are important because we need to know where we were to see how far we've come - and how far we still have to go. Books like this remind me that we've just replaced the Witches or our history with new things we don't understand (religions, people groups, etc).
People should read this book not just because it's a classic and on a very prestigious list, but also because it's part of who we were and who we should avoid becoming again. It will probably take all of three hours to read, but it will be three hours worth it!