REVIEW: Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer

WitchesRating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Non-Fiction/ History, Pages: 144, Level: Easy

Book Description:

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 17th-century saga remains hauntingly resonant as people struggle even today with the urgent need to find someone to blame for their misfortunes.

In addition to the Sibert Honor, Witches! has been honored by the Society of Illustrators with their Original Art Award Gold Medal, has been named a Notable book by both the American Library Association and the National Council for the Social Studies, and was chosen one of School Library Journal’s 100 Magnificent Children’s Books and one of Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Children’s Books.

I listened to this audiobook and am glad I did. Even though the Salem witch trials are not exactly a boring subject, Witches is non-fiction and I think I enjoyed listening to it rather than reading it.

I don’t presume to remember all the details about that time in history but nothing jumped out at me as grossly inaccurate. In addition, Schanzer did not sensationalize or editorialize while at the same time making the subject interesting.

Maybe history lessons should be listened to rather than read.

Reviewed by Christina
May 3, 2014

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