Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare

Publisher: Bantam Doubleday (Dell) (Houghton Mifflin)
Reading Level: 12 and up
Enjoyment Level: Highest
Newbery Medal Winner, 1959

Like so many books I read as a child, this is one of my favorites. As much as I love the new stories that continue to be published, there's something about childhood favorites that make them all the more magical than even Harry Potter (and that's saying something since I adore Harry Potter).

The Witch of Blackbird Pond caught my fancy when I was about ten years old. As some of you already know, I've been a voracious reader ever since I learned how to read the words 'cat' and 'dog'. And I rarely waited to pick a book because I had to. I wish I remembered more about what I was thinking when I chose this story, but I might've just been drawn to the word 'witch' in the title. No matter, this has been a favorite almost all of my life.

Kit Tyler comes to America after her grandfather passes away. She finds herself moving from a lush Barbados upbringing to the harsh, work-oriented Puritan society of her aunt and uncle. She doesn't fit in and makes several mistakes on her road to growth as a person. However, as the story unfolds, she is also the only person to recognize certain truths around her, and she is able to help her family and friends because of her free and independent childhood.

The setting makes for an interesting read - I'm not usually interested in historical fiction, myself - and some readers may be surprised by the way things are described. The story was written before certain terms were considered not politically correct and there is no gloss over the way of life that is portrayed. It feels more real to me as I read because it's true to the time-period the author is representing and that makes the characters and plot deeper.

Kit is a character that is almost modern for the story, though. Despite the historical feel and accuracy, a lot of girls used to the technological age in which we find ourselves will be able to identify with her struggles and her personality. This is especially true for anyone who has felt like they didn't fit in. Thinking about it now, that's probably why I love the story so much. It's been a rare thing to feel like I fit in anywhere.

The other characters flow so well around Kit that you'd think the story was completely true. It's beautiful how the author was able to paint such real characters that create an amazing story.

Readers used to a lot of showing versus telling, action, and fast-paced writing, might find the read a little slow, but the story is definitely character-driven and well worth the time it takes to savor the novel.

This is a perfect read for November (or any time!) and I highly recommend giving it a try.

Until next time, go read something good!

~ Vilate

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