Lucy's Reviews > The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
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Feb 10, 08

Read in February, 2008

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 something lacking when an adult reads young adult literature. Innocence, perhaps. It's too simple. The protagonists don't fit inside the story. They are almost always ahead of their times and privy to understanding that their peers don't seem to have access to. Where did Kit come from? Barbados, yes...but possibly from the 20th century as well? As modern readers, we have the hindsight to see and learn from the foibles of our ancestors and their limited understanding, but the author gave this sort of vision to Kit immediately.

I don't know if this is ever argued (and why am I arguing, didn't I promise not to?) but part of me feels like there is an anti-obedience theme in this book. Kit is almost always disobedient, and her disobedience always turned out to be the right thing to do. Because it's young adult literature, everything turns out fine in the end, but there is a difference in doing the right thing and doing what you want to. This is a much deeper discussion to be typed out here, and I won't blaspheme this good book any more. I know it's a favorite.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Brenda Oh, if only you had read it when you were 14. I read it (and Gone With the Wind, Little Women, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder books) over and over again. Still have to check in with the old favorites now and then to see if the magic is still there and it always is. The tragedy is that my daughters hated every one of my favorites!


message 2: by Sarah (last edited Nov 13, 2009 10:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sarah I really appreciated your review. I read the book as a girl and re-read it frequently and now it seems it's time to read it again, but with your comments in my mind it may prove to ve a vastly different experience. Especially concerning Kit not being accurate to her time period or culture. As I write this though I'm remembering that the Puritans were an unique culture, a subset of modern 17th century reacting to the dissipation and liberality of the English majority. Also, they (the Puritans)lived in a climate that was harsh, unforgiving and more likely fatal to its inhabitants than sunny mild Barbados. I agree with Montesquieu that climate has significant impact on culture and personality and in this raw unsettled land foolishness almost always will equal death either from starvation, murder from Indians or from the weather itself. So naturally their whole outlook on life is more serious than what Kit is used to. A movie with a similar theme is Babette's Feast, a story of a French chef who is forced to leave France due to the revolution and seeks refuge in a puritan neighborhood in Holland. Like New England it was cold, isolated and dreary in Holland. The people allowed themselves few pleasures, wore somber clothing and their food was unpalatable. Babette encountered similar culture shocks and discomfort in her new surroundings as Kit did in Connecticut fifty to 100 years earlier. Still I'm going to read it again soon and look for the flaws you mentioned. Like you I dislike the all too common pattern in young adult literature of praising disobedience and twisting bad behavior to look like good.


Jennifer Jensen (Literally Jen) I last read this book when I was 13. I fondly remembered it and am now reading it at the age of 27. The "magic" this book had for me when I was 13 is still there and I'm enjoying reading it again. I think it was $6 well spent and am happy to have this book in my personal library.


Leslie Thank you for leaving a review that expresses critical thinking. That's rare these days!


Gina Well, I'm just wondering what if she was obedient? the would be no such thing as the "witch of blackbird pond" and why she took a character from a completely different setting and lifestyle than the puritans. in a sense she had come to live with strangers and for someone so young and from a a different culture, don't you think it is typical to be somewhat disobedient? yes she did sound older than her years or the time period at times, but if she hadn't the story would have been as dreary as the conditions they were in. And since this is a story and make believe, more times the author is taking a time period and lifestyles of that period and the location and creating a story like, "what if?" that's how most ya books are, fiction is sticking to the imagination and going exactly how it was real life concept..then it wouldn't be a work of fiction, may be drab, and read more like a documentary..boring. that said, I did feel it was a little rushed, this could have easily been twice as long as it was, but I did come to like/dislike the character like I would in any other book. I thought that kit's character was not this total rebellious one, but one of curiosity and longing to be happy where she is at, longing for a true friend and sense of worth. I don't think it was so much about "doing the right thing" but doing what she is as a person..more or less. she did do well with doing her chores and pulling her weight around, but of course like any other child, sometimes skips them without thinking so much. I feel there could have been a better ending. But also being as it was origianlly written in the 1950's...it was well done. it can be hard to compare this book to others that have since been written, but it its days of publishing and awards, it was a good and decent YA book. I find i have to keep an open mind, otherwise I would be very harsh on half the books I read! :( lol


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