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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  83,739 ratings  ·  3,564 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 15th 1978 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1958)
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Best Young Adult Books
93rd out of 8,983 books — 59,005 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Katy
I really liked this book, and have therefore come to the conclusion that books written for children can be higher quality writing than books written for adults because there isn't this pressure to impress with heavy metaphor and poignant statements about life. When adults write for adults there is too much pressure, adults writing for children understand that it is the story and the characters that matter most, and if those two are well written then I think you have a deep, satisfying book.
Anne Osterlund
Kit, Katherine Tyler, is a free spirit. When her grandfather dies, she sells off his giant home in Barbados and sets sail to find her only remaining family in Connecticut colony. She weathers a storm, avoids seasickness, and even manages to wrangle two entire conversations out of the blue-eyed son of the ship’s captain.

However, the Connecticut mainland has a sharper edge than any of the challenges on board ship. How can Kit bear the insidious patience required to drop cornmeal in a bowl one pinc
...more
Kp
Feb 11, 2008 Kp rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Barnes&Noble.com says 9-12; I'll go ahead and add girl to that.
"Buy the truth, and do not sell it,
also wisdom and instruction and understanding"
-> Psalm 23:23

A wholly satisfying read (and respectable look at Puritan life)!

(I'm a 23 yr old [in college] guy, and->) Who knew I'd get so emotionally invested??

I certainly didn't.

There were several parts when I was legitimately frustrated, angry, and a little teary-eyed (to level with you...).

My favorite scenes were quite easily John's return home (the teary-eyes; c'mon-> I'm just trying to give you
...more
_inbetween_
A serious favourite from my formative youth, strange and harsh and nearly illicitly romantic so that I reread it, no matter how much Kit's predicament upset and scared me (mobs and trials and institutions are some of my worst fears).
Reading it quickly now - for the first time in English - many decades after first finding it in the small town library, I'm struck by how good a book it is. Many, amongst them the woman who "raised/formed" me as well as Narnia, crumble in retrospect, but there was a
...more
Sarah
So. I read this for the first time since 5th grade.

As a kid, the romance between Kit & Nat gave me great anxiety. I really wanted them to end up together. The idea that they might not was excruciating because it was SO OBVIOUS!!! that they were the OTP of this book...so when I picked it up again after so many years, I remembered little else about the story.

But as an adult, two things stand out: the relationship between Kit & her uncle Matthew, & the complete lack of sexual menace in
...more
Lucy
I know this is a classic. A Newberry award winner for juvenile fiction, I can hardly criticize such a loved book. Sadly, I did not read this when it was meant to be read, as a youth struggling to know it's more important to do the right thing than to fit in with what everybody else is doing.

Important, worthy lesson, but after reading two young adult novels this week with very similar themes (does this happen to anyone else? I always seem to inadvertently read books in "themes"), I feel there is
...more
Corinne
This is a breathtaking book. It takes us to Puritan New England, in the colony of Connecticut. Sixteen year old Katherine (Kit) arrives in America after having been brought up by her grandfather in Barbados. Her liberal Shakespeare-reading, ocean-swimming, silk-dress wearing upbringing did nothing to prepare her for the inflexibility and piousness of her aunt’s family that takes her in. In fact, Kit’s free thinking and outspoken ways create suspicion and irrational fear.

Speare’s characters are f
...more
Jessica
Sep 21, 2007 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 12 And Up
Forced to leave her sunny Caribbean home for the bleak Connecticut Colony, Kit Tyler is filled with trepidation. As they sail up the river to Kit's new home, the teasing and moodiness of a young sailor named Nat doesn't help. Still, her unsinkable spirit soon bobs back up. What this spirited teenager doesn't count on, however, is how her aunt and uncle's stern Puritan community will view her. In the colonies of 1687, a girl who swims, wears silk and satin gowns, and talks back to her elders is n ...more
Leanna
I’ve been muddling through a few “serious” books for the last several days, so I finally picked up an old friend instead: Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

The book’s protagonist, sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler, leaves 17th-century Barbados to live with her aunt in Puritan New England. Not too surprisingly, Kit does not fit well in her new environment. She has been pampered and spoiled. She is a Royalist and an Anglican. She can swim.

Kit is not the ideal heroine for a 21st-centur
...more
Amy Greenfield
A fish-out-of-water story that brought the seventeenth century alive for me.

What did I love about it when I was a teen? Its restless, stubborn, impulsive heroine, Kit. Its confident, outspoken, sea-faring hero, Nat. Steadfast Mercy and shy John — whose story still makes my heart beat a little faster. A historical setting so vivid that my real life paled beside it. And - sigh - one of the most romantic last scenes ever.

Re-reading it now, I can see that it was shaped by the time it was written i
...more
Flying Sandals
Alrighty. . . . . WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ?


This book is an insult. It insulted me, the people who died because of the Salem Witch trials, and history in general.

REVIEW TO COME

EDIT:

Now, I was given this to read and learn about the witch trials. Being very excited, I cracked it opened and read it cover to back. I didn't enjoy it. It hurt me. Both physically and mentally.

Oh oh oh, where do we begin?

First off, is this a book trying to take on a serious topic such as the Salem trials or is it a
...more
Hayes
Written in 1958. I have had this on my bookshelves for many years. I thought I would use it with a class, which never happened, so I never read the book. Finally got to it, thanks to the Mt. TBR challenge.

The political history was interesting and well done: the problems between the American Colonists (in Connecticut, specifically, in 1687) and King James and his governors, divided loyalties, the beginnings of the idea of Revolution. Certainly better than Johnny Tremain.

The idea of witchcraft wa
...more
NC
I loved it as a child and I really loved this the second time around as an adult. I was surprised to find that the character that was Kit's mentor was a Quaker. I became a Quaker as an adult and am constantly surprised by the number of books that I loved in my childhood that had endearing Quaker characters. Characters that I wanted to emulate. Wonderfully researched look into life in colonial America. Good adventure and all of the romance turns out well. I read this for my book group and we had ...more
Kris
Masterful. Unhurried and understated. Simple, yet deep enough for a young child to appreciate the first layer, while sensing something more... Beautifully done. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a good children's book.

I haven't read a children's book this deep in a long time. Every character had inner conflict and multiple layers... enough to keep the interaction new and spontaneous, their character traits growing, the plot diverse and unpredictable.

It was a breath of fresh air not to be
...more
Valerie
There was nothing WOW STUPENDOUS about this book. I like it well enough. The witch trial was my favorite part, but that was the highlight of the whole book for me. The plot was slow almost the whole time.

Kit was an okay heroine. She does what she thinks is right and stands by it but she didn't have much personality. Her spontaneousness wasn't that spontaneous. Kit was rich so she felt very degraded by all of the work she was told to do. That bothered me because she felt like only servants did th
...more
Rachael Stein
"No, writing is not lonely. It is a profession crowded with life and sound and color. I feel privileged to have had a share in it." —Elizabeth George Speare*

A couple of chapters into The Witch of Blackbird Pond, I had to flip back to the copyright page and double check that it was actually published in 1958. That's just four years after The Wheel on the School, which, while it has some admirable qualities, can most kindly be described as quaint.

Witch, on the other hand, with its vivid, immediat
...more
CLM
In 1687, when 16-year-old Kit Tyler's grandfather dies and she is importuned by one of his debtors, she reluctantly leaves Barbados and sails for Connecticut to make a home with her previously unmet aunt Rachel. On board the Dolphin, she makes friends with the sea captain's son as well as a sober young minister also heading for Wethersfield. Unfortunately, Kit also makes an enemy in her future neighbor, Goodwife Cruff, who is suspicious of Kit's exotic background and impetuous spirit, and warns ...more
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
I just read this for the first time since elementary school. It may as well have been the first time ever, because I remembered nothing about it. Quite frankly, I was blown away.

This is a terrific read - well-written, and it weaves historical events into the narrative seamlessly. The messages of friendship were sweet and the connections between the characters were realistic and affecting.

Something that surprised me was how central romantic intrigue was to the story. I'm starting to wonder if it'
...more
Victoria
One of my favorite historical fictions...because it's not boring!

This is the way to travel back in time; follow Kit as she lands on the bleak shores of Connecticut during the Puritan times. Having grown up in Barbados with a loving grandfather, Kit is totally unprepared for the harsh, hard-working, god-fearing life of colonial America. Her new family; an aunt, uncle, and two cousins, have mixed feelings about the new addition to their household.

Kit finds solace with a old hermit woman named Han
...more
Deborah Markus
Just reread this childhood favorite. My son and I are studying the Salem witch trials, and this story takes place very near them in every sense.

What I think I admire most about this book is that the writer doesn't idealize her protagonist. It's not just that Kit isn't perfect -- she's terribly wrong sometimes. I remember how taken aback I was to see Kit's oblivious indifference to the slavery that surrounded her when she grew up in 17th-century Barbados. Speare handles this expertly, making the
...more
Sandie
I still like to read children's and young adult books. There are so many good ones out there. This has been on my list for a very long time. I thought the author did a good job describing the puritan lifestyle of pre-revolutionary Connecticut. That the main character comes alone from Barbados to Weathersfild is a bit of a stretch but makes for a nice contrast. As an adult reader, I found the outcome somewhat predictable, but it is one that I think a young woman who is interested in history might ...more
Shannon
This was one of my favorite books when I was younger. Despite not being the most flamboyant person myself, it was easy to relate to the main character and her feeling like the only spot of color in a grey, grey world. In the end she's not so much a "feminist figure" as she's just someone who had something to say in a society where what women had to say meant almost nothing.
Gwen (The Gwendolyn Reading Method)
Awwww, I remember loving this book when I was younger and I loved it re-reading it as well. It's got a beautiful character arc and a well-ordered story.
Minli
If you don't like this book, I don't want to hear it. I don't know how I missed it during my childhood, but I'm making up for it now.

Like Arthur Miller, Elizabeth George Speare wrote about witch hunts during the 1600s as a parallel to the Red Scare of the 1950s. A question bubbled up in my mind as I read this: is good historical fiction timeless?

Published in 1958, during a period not exactly known for its tolerance, The Witch of Blackbird Pond beautifully depicts Kit Tyler's year living in the c
...more
Sarah
How I missed reading this book before, I will never know. So many historical fiction books have been written about this time period but I loved this one. There are so many facets of colony life brought into this novel. Why are more teachers not using this in the classroom? Some of my favorite parts came in just describing what life was like for Kit in America. The drudgery of preparing food, cleaning, growing food, and the never-ending cycle of work. Makes me very thankful to live in a world of ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Mar 22, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: For Girls from 7 to 12 years old
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Grade School Reading
The novel's opening pages introduces us to sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler, who is traveling from her native island of Barbados to live with her aunt in Puritan New England. She's a bird of colorful plumage finding herself among crows, an outsider before she ever steps on the shores of 1687 Connecticut. As with another outsider, the Quaker Hannah Tupper, there are soon rumors Kit's a witch. One review complains Kit is basically a modern girl, and there's truth to that. But her outsider status does al ...more
Diane S.
Read this many years ago when I was in Girl Scouts of all things and had not yet heard of the Scarlet Letter. Knew a bit about the Puritans because like most other young girls I was fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials. I liked this book as much, or maybe even more than I did the first time. It is one of those YA novels that except for the lead being a young person encompasses so much history, family and relationships, that it crosses over to adult very well. Just as I did back than I admire Kit ...more
Talia
Newly orphaned Kit Tyler’s world is turned upside down when she comes to live in the Connecticut Colony of Wethersfield. After a childhood in Barbados, Kit does not fit in with new family, nor the colonial way of life with includes difficult chores and frequent church meetings. In a life of loneliness and isolation, the only solace Kit finds is with a kindly old woman living out in a meadow, known to the colony as a witch. However, if the townspeople ever knew of Kit’s secret friendship, she too ...more
Laura Bang
Ahhh, this book just gives me so many feels.

I remember liking this well enough when I read it in elementary school, but it really changed for me on rereading later. The first time I reread this book was in a children's lit class in grad school, shortly after I'd made a more permanent move* to the East Coast from California (*having previously attended undergrad on the East Coast). Kit moves from a tropical island to New England and now I really get that feeling of being torn between two distinct
...more
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7549
I was born in Melrose, Massachusetts, on November 21, 1908. I have lived all my life in New England, and though I love to travel I can't imagine ever calling any other place on earth home. Since I can't remember a time when I didn't intend to write, it is hard to explain why I took so long getting around to it in earnest. But the years seemed to go by very quickly. In 1936 I married Alden Speare a ...more
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“What a pity every child couldn't learn to read under a willow tree...” 1270 likes
“All the way up the river she's been holding back somehow, waiting. Now you'll both have to wait. I'm not going to disappoint her, Kit. When I take you on board the Witch, it's going to be for keeps.” 58 likes
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