Monday, May 19, 2014

A Review of 'Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem' by Rosalyn Schanzer

"In the little colonial town of Salem Village, Massachusetts, two girls began to twitch, mumble, and contort their bodies into strange shapes.  The doctor tried every remedy, but nothing cured the young Puritans.  He grimly announced the dire diagnosis: the girls were bewitched!  And then the accusations began.

The riveting, true story of the victims, accused witches, crooked officials, and mass hysteria that turned a mysterious illness affecting two children into a witch hunt that took over a dozen people's lives and ruined hundreds more unfolds in chilling detail in this young adult book by award-winning author and illustrator Rosalyn Schanzer.

With a powerful narrative, chilling primary source accounts, a design evoking the period, and stylized black-white-and-red scratchboard illustrations of young girls having wild fits in the courtroom, witches flying overhead, and the Devil and his servants terrorizing the Puritans, this book will rivet young readers with novelistic power.

Taught in middle and high schools around the U.S., the 17-century saga remains hauntingly resonant as people struggle even today with the urgent need to find someone to blame for their misfortunes."

When I worked in Barnes & Noble, I remember walking through the children's section while shelving books and this little book caught my eye.  The Salem witch trials was an incredibly interesting (and terrifying) time in history and I just love learning about it.  This is a great place to start.

It's pretty thorough as far as dates go.  It's also interesting because they go through each part of this historical event: what the society was like where the trials took place, who the people were who accused witches (witches could be anyone: men, women, animals...), and who the accused were.  I like that this book also includes an aftermath.  I didn't know what happened after the trials ended and you needed harder evidence to convict someone of witchcraft.

This is a great starter book that adults (like me) and younger readers will like, especially if they're interested in history.

I give 'Witches!'
Thanks for Reading!


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