Review posted February 9, 2010.
Laurel-Leaf Books, 1993. First published in 1958. 224 pages.
1959 Newbery Medal Winner
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2009: Wonderful Rereads
When I took a class on the Newbery Medal, some of my classmates got to talking about The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and I found I simply couldn't resist rereading it, even though for the class I was reading winners that I'd never read before.
Kit grew up in the West Indies, on her grandfather's plantation. She wore fashionable clothes in bright colors, went swimming in the warm water, and took slaves for granted.
Her grandfather dies, leaving debts that an old widower will help her clear up, if she marries him. So Kit flees to the Massachusetts colony, to her mother's sister, who married a Puritan long ago.
To say that Kit doesn't fit in among the Puritans is an understatement. She tries to help in her aunt's household, but it takes her time to get used to the tasks. She finds a friend in Hannah, an old woman living out by Blackbird Pond, a Quaker who's rumored to be a witch, but whom Kit finds to be loving and kind.
There's all kinds of drama in this story. It's a testament to its power that most of us in the Newbery class were most enthusiastic about the romance, but one participant, who had read the book when she was younger, in elementary school, hadn't even noticed the romance. She loved the book because of the drama of Kit trying to fit in and being accused of witchcraft.
The book takes place shortly before the American Revolution, so you also have good historical background. Of course, that's more conflict for Kit, since she and her grandfather were Royalists, but the Massachusetts colony is talking about rebellion.
This is truly a wonderful book worth reading over and over again. It stands the test of time and spans almost all age levels.