Author: Elizabeth George Speare
Title: The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Narrator: Mary Beth Hurt
Publication Info: Listening Library, 2002 [Originally published in 1958]
As a child growing up in Connecticut, I developed a passion for history, particularly colonial American history and local history. Yet somehow I missed this children’s novel set in 17th-century Connecticut. Until now!
Kit Tyler leaves her home in Barbados after the death of her grandfather and seeks out her aunt in Wethersfield, Connecticut. While welcomed warmly to join her aunt’s family, Kit misses the sunshine and tropical splendor of Barbados, not to mention the slave labor that had kept her from the daily drudgery she now shares with her cousins. Her free spirit is also at odds with the strict discipline of the Puritan community. She finds a kindred spirit in Hannah Tupper, the “witch” of the title who is actually a Quaker forced to live on her own in the marshy areas on the edge of town. As their friendship blossoms, suspicions grow in the community leading to accusations of witchcraft.
It’s a good novel, and while not 100% historically accurate, it uses its colonial Puritan setting well to create the atmosphere for a story of a positive young female character for the 20th century when it was written and now the 21st century as well.
Recommended books: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol I: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson, and Blindspot by Jane Kamensky & Jill Lepore