Saturday, February 16, 2013

Elizabeth George Speare - Historical Writer Extraordinaire

Have you ever read any of the books written by Elizbeth George Speare?
She wrote some wonderful historical fiction, and also won 2 Newbery Award Medals, and 1 Newbery Honor Medal.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Winner of the 1959 Newbery Medal
Kit moves from her island home of Barbados to live with family members she has never met in their Puritanical community in Conneticut . She feels out of  place and alone, and seeks solace in the woods where she meets Hannah Tupper. The Puritans think that Hannah is a witch and soon she is accused of such. Kit eventually is tied to her and also accused of  being a witch.
This is a wonderful wonderful story. I've loved it since I was young. It captivates you and leaves you filled with emotion. The best part is that it paints a wonderful picture of 17th Century life in New England.
One of my favotire quotes from this book:
“What a pity every child couldn't learn to read under a willow tree...”
―  T
he Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Bronze Bow
Winner of the 1962 Newbery Medal.

Daniel is a young Jewish rebel who wants to avenge his father's crucifiction by the Romans. This story is set in Galilee during the time of Jesus. Daniel even listens to Jesus and talks with him. The overall themes of this story is loving your enemies. This is such a fabulous work of historical fiction, I can't even express how much I revere this book. It would be a travesty if a child was never exposed to this story (really).

Here is one of my favorite sections from the story:

“Daniel, he said. I would have you follow me.

Master!....I will fight for you to the end!

My loyal friend, he said, I would ask something much harder than that. Would you love for me to the end?

...I don't understand, he said again, You tell people about the kingdom. Are we not to fight for it?
The kingdom is only bought at a great price, Jesus said. There was one who came just yesterday and wanted to follow me. He was very rich, and when I asked him to give up his wealth, he went away.
I will give you everything I have!

....Riches are not keeping you from the kingdom, he said. You must give up your hate.”

―   The Bronze Bow

The Sign of the Beaver
The Sign of the Beaver
1984 Newbery Honor Medal

It is a young boy who goes with his father to Maine to stake a claim. His father leaves him to hold the cabin while he returns for the rest of the family. The boy is befriended by a local Indian chief's grandson and they help him survive.  They encourage him to come live with them when his father's return never appears to be happening.
This is an enjoyable read and very interesting.
I will note that it is a book that is highly panned by many Native Americans. Speare's uses some words that are stereotypical, such as "squaw" and also some rather stereotypical Indian behaviors.
I can't speak to this obviously. In my estimation it is a very good book.
Sometimes these types of issues are good points to discuss with children the changing landscape of native people in stories and other issues of race and creed.
Overall, I think it would be a shame if a child was not given the opportunity to read this story.
Happy Weekend!

1 comment:

  1. We've read all of these in the Nelson home several times. Treasures!