Thursday, September 30, 2010

Challenging Reads

As a continued celebration of Banned Books Week, I thought that I'd give a short review of a challenged book I just reread and as a bonus, I've linked to reviews of other challenged books I've reviewed here previously.  It turns out that I've read many more challenged and banned books before the blog than I have since starting it.  I plan to work on that.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication date: December 1958
ISBN: 9780440995777 (mass market paperback)

Source: personal copy

The Witch of Blackbird Pond 
Kit Tyler is leaving the only home she's known in Barbados for the unknown New England coast, in search of her mother's only sister.  When she arrives, she is shocked at the austere and meager home her aunt and uncle have created; it is so different from her free and wealthy upbringing.  She struggles to fit in with those strict Puritans, especially when she befriends an old Quaker woman that everyone believes is a witch.

Things I Liked:
This is probably at least the twentieth time I've read this book.  It was one of the first books I remember reading and falling in love with.  I still adore the way Speare brings to life what it was like to live in Puritan New England with all the prejudices and the inner strength of the people.  I've always been a fan of Kit, both because she is unconventional and because she so obviously has flaws.  She is just as set in her ways as her aunt and uncle are in theirs.  I also noticed, on this read, how much more was going on in the book than I ever would have picked up on as a kid.  There was the political discussions and religious undertones and prejudices and much more.  I just love how well Speare has created a story that we enjoy and also slipped in bits of learning as well.  Still so deserving of its Newbery award, I think.  I assume it was challenged for the discussion of witchcraft.  Rather ironic, I think, because there is no witchcraft that actually takes place in the book.

Things I Didn't Like:
I noticed also that the ending is so neat and perfect.  While this is what made me love the book as a child, as an adult I find it just a little unrealistic.  But, definitely still makes me happy.  

The Bronze Bow or Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare

Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
some minor incidents

Overall rating: *****

And, here are more reviews to help you get your Banned and Challenged Books fix:

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling 

Holes by Louis Sachar
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe
Squashed by Joan Bauer
Stuck In Neutral by Terry Trueman
The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

Most of these are taken from the list found at University of Illinois' list of challenged children's books.

How are you celebrating your freedom to read?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Bronze Bow are both favorite books of mine--but I cannot think why Blackbird Pond was challenged and/or banned. "Why-on-earth"?! There's nowt stranger than folk and what makes them feel threatened, that's for sure!

  2. Andie, amen! Someone, somewhere can find something ban-worthy in any book.


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