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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

1600s America springs to life for today's kids.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages
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Villagers try to capture an old widow and set her house on fire. Accusations of witchcraft threaten the life of the main character.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that well-developed characters and an engrossing plot make this an enjoyable read. The story is dramatic and deals superficially with charges of witchcraft, as well as a budding romance between two characters, but there's nothing of real concern for young readers.

What's the story?

In this gripping historical page-turner, sixteen-year-old Kit must defend her life when she is accused of witchcraft in Puritan New England. After she is forced to leave her luxurious home in Barbados to live with her stern and dour Puritan Connecticut relatives, she finds herself facing execution. Author Speare brings seventeenth-century America to vibrant life for today's children.

Is it any good?


Well-developed characters and detailed descriptions of life within the town capture and sustain the reader's interest throughout the novel. Coming from a more permissive modern society, many readers will empathize with Kit's unsuccessful attempts to suppress her independent nature, and will find her failure to conform to such a restrictive society endearing. Speare addresses Kit's inner thoughts and emotions frequently throughout the novel, making her a believable and sympathetic character. Though some of the minor characters are stereotypical Puritans, the complex nature of many of the more prominent Puritan characters, particularly those within Kit's family, is gradually revealed.

Passages describing the daily life in a 17th century Puritan colony are particularly interesting. From required behavior in church and the punishments meted out to disobedient children, to the daily chores of the women of Kit's household, readers are given a glimpse of what life was like over 300 years ago. But as charges of witchcraft mount, the novel becomes a real page-turner, and many will find it hard to put down.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the historical realities of religious life in colonial America and might even enjoy researching the infamous Salem witch trials, which took place several years after the fictional events in this book. Why are the Puritans in the story so quick to level charges of witchcraft against those who share different values than they do? How is Kit's daily life in the colonies different than her lifestyle in Barbados? How is being a woman today different than being a woman in the 1600s?

Book details

Author:Elizabeth George Speare
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:December 1, 1958
Number of pages:258
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

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Kid, 11 years old April 19, 2009

I was Fairly Mind-numbed...

I don't seem to think much at all happened. She was just an emotional girl (who mainly just cried throughout an entire chapter, which was a bit of a waste for me) that just seemed to think about was almost like watching (or reading) an outdated Soap Opera.
Teen, 14 years old Written byladybug! April 9, 2008

Good book, had everything in it!

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is about a girl named Kit who comes to England from Barbardos an island, which her grandfather WAS king of. England has many changes, she has to work at her aunts house. While she is in England many things happen. For one, she meets an old widow who is said to be a "Witch" but she is really the nicest lady ever. A sickness goes over to the town and everybody blames it on the "witch" who is not a witch, so they come to burn her house down, but Kit gets her on a ship to go stay with her good friend Nat`s grandmother. But as she goes home, she hears a strange thing, Kit your going to ........ So Kit goes on another rollar coaster with all the townspeople thinking that she is a witch. Will she ever be free? WIll she be forced to marry William, a nice man but not the man she is meant to be with, will Nat come rescue her? So come join the craziast rollar coaster ever!
Educator and Parent of a 6, 9, and 13 year old Written byJayne Smith July 4, 2012

Slightly Gory

Drowning, burning, and hanging not only discussed, but advocated by some of the characters. Fine otherwise. Very fast-paced and involving. Great for kids studying the Salem witch trials.
What other families should know
Too much violence