- Virginia Johnson
Orphaned Kit Tyler had found life with her rich grandfather in Barbados to be wonderful. But her grandfather’s death revealed that their life of tropical splendor was nothing more than an illusion. In debt and desperate, the 17-year-old had very few options.
Running away from an arranged marriage to a much older man, she and her many trunks of expensive clothes board the Dolphin on a voyage to Wethersfield, a Puritan village in Connecticut. She goes to meet her Aunt Rachel, her Uncle Matthew and their daughters—the only relatives she has.
While traveling, she catches the eye of John, a kind, poor student on his way to Wethersfield, and Nat, the captain’s son, who teases Kit about her aristocratic upbringing. She truly enjoys being at sea, but even before she steps foot on the New England shore, she is accused of being a witch by yet another passenger heading to Wethersfield.
Life in New England is so different from the luxurious days she knew. Unfortunately, she absolutely does not fit in and seems to have no useful skills to contribute to the family’s survival. Perhaps it’s good that rich, young William Ashby has taken a shine to her.
Difficult though the situation is, Kit is determined to make it work, and her days are made brighter by some true friends, including one they call The Witch of Blackbird Pond. But it’s dangerous to befriend outcasts, as Kit is about to discover.
This Newbery-winner has adventure, romance, intrigue, and a really admirable heroine in Kit Tyler.
If you like this book by Elizabeth George Speare, also look for her novel with another young, strong-minded woman, Calico Captive. Based on actual events, it follows Miriam Willard and her family, who were captured in New Hampshire by Indians in the days leading up to the French and Indian War.
Speare's The Sign of the Beaver tells the story of Matt, a young boy who is left alone to look after his family’s homestead in 18th-century Maine. Matt is able to survive with the help of the local Indians, including the chief’s son, Attean. Speare’s other Newbery winner, The Bronze Bow, is about a young Jewish rebel very much concerned with revenge against the Romans in the first century.