Monday, June 16, 2014

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Book 32 of my 2014 Reading Challenge

Book 2 of our Newbery Challenge.  My 10 year old daughter Alison and I have set a hefty goal - to read every Newbery Medal winning book together.  At this time there are 92 winners spanning from 1922 - 2013.  

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
1959 Newbery Medal Winner

Summary (via the book jacket)
Kit has grown up on the island of Barbados, loved and pampered by her grandfather.  But after his death, Kit must leave.  It's not proper for a sixteen-year-old girl to live by herself.  She's heard stories about her aunt and uncle who live in the colony of Connecticut.  These are the only relatives Kit knows of.  So, alone and desperate, she sets sail to live with them in New England.
When she arrives, Kit is shocked by the gray, damp landscape, but even more stunned by the Puritanical lifestyle of her uncle's household.  Fitting in is not easy - until she meets Hannah Tupper, and older woman who lives alone and is the only person who lets Kit be herself.
But the colonists believe Hannah is a witch.  If they discover Kit is her friend, they will think the same of her.  Kit must choose: should she abandon her only friend, or stand by her and risk losing everything?

My Opinion
I wasn't able to find it officially (ballots are supposed to be secret) but it has been reported in multiple places that this book was the first (and/or only, depending on the source) to win the Newbery unanimously on the first vote.  
Another note about the author: she only wrote 4 books for children, 2 of which won the Newbery Medal and another which was a Newbery Honor book.  I look forward to reading her other books as we continue this challenge.
The author has high expectations for her young readers; this book is a dense 249 pages with long chapters and small type.  If I had known that I may have saved it for later in the challenge - Alison would be happy it was time to read but only able to make it through one or two chapters at a time before being ready for something else.
It was well-written and interesting but not something I would recommend a young reader try on their own. 

Alison's Opinion
"It was a good book and I really liked it.  I liked it when she rescued Hannah.  I wish they had told me a little bit more about the grandfather but other than that it was pretty good."

Quote from the Book
"She could see the glow of the fire, but she could not feel its warmth.  It was like gazing in at a window, from the cold outside, at a forbidden room she could never enter again."

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