Thursday, October 16, 2008

Witch of Blackbird Pond Discussion Questions

Our new Utah chapter of the book club met last night and it was so great to be together with a room of people who are excited about children's books. As previously mentioned, we read The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and The Widow's Broom by Chris Van Allsburg and we each shared some other books about witches. Most of the discussion focused on The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I found most of these discussion questions here.

  1. What do you think the main themes of this book are?
  2. What if people suddenly expected you to behave differently from what you are used to? What are some ways you, or others, might respond if the rules of acceptable behavior suddenly changed?
  3. It is obvious that men and women play different roles in The Witch of Blackbird Pond and, by implication, in colonial society. This is a basic historical fact. But what is striking about the novel is how Elizabeth George Speare reveals two truths: how men as well as women are trapped by their roles, and the emotional implications of these strict gender roles for all characters. Can you come up with some examples from the book?
  4. Who do you feel the most sorry for in this novel and why?
  5. In her attempt to help both Prudence and Hannah, Kit sometimes disobeys community and family rules. Was that the right thing to do and does that make her a good friend?
  6. When did you first suspect there might be something between Nat and Kit? How did Speare craft things so this relationship made sense?
  7. In the end, do you think Speare is saying Keeping secrets is a good thing or a bad thing?
  8. As Kit adjust to life in her new community, she must often ask herself whom must I be loyal to? How does that parallel our lives in this country today?
  9. In New England, witchcraft was a crime punishable by death.The first such trial and execution took place in Connecticut in 1647. Ten other similar trials and executions took place in Connecticut in the twenty years following. Three of those "witches" were from the real town of Wethersfield. Speare said, "I do not believe a historical novel should gloss over the pain and ugliness." Do you think the novel's conclusion was realistic for that time period?
  10. In the end, Matthew shows himself to be law-abiding, even though he is prejudiced against those with different ideas. Do you think it is possible for a good and decent person to have prejudices?
  11. This book was written a long time ago, do you think it would still interest kids today? What books of our time might interest kids just as much on 50 years?

You can also find some really interesting points about the themes and main conflicts of the novel here.

4 comments:

Reba said...

Steph,

Thank you SO much for posting these questions. I'm totally using them for next week's book club discussion. You rock

Breana said...

I'm sorry to comment on this here, but I was wondering where you got your MA in Children's Literature.

ibeeeg said...

Thanks for posting these questions and resources. This will be great when one of my girls reads this book to help draw out some conversation from them.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Hi Stephanie. Just read this book and loved it. I was looking for a email address to contact you directly but couldn't find one, so I apologize asking this question on this post. I'm wondering how your book club works and if you take on new members. I'd be interested in joining (I'm in West Jordan) and am curious for details. If you can just email back to natasha(at)mawbooks(dot) com. Thanks!