Hello my lovelies!
I hope your week has been going well! I’m knee deep into my summer semester. I’m taking a Teen Collections & Development class as well as an intro technology class. The classes only go to the end of July so all my assignments are due back to back. But my teen collections class has allowed me to keep up with my reading, especially YA.
This brings me to today’s review on Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer. We were able to pick a few informational texts to read and this is one I picked 🙂 Read below for my thoughts and if you’re sort on time, then check out my Need to Know section for a quick summary of my review!Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer
Published by National Geographic Society on 13 September 2011
Genres: YA NonFiction
Tackling the same twisted subject as Stacy Schiff's much-lauded book The Witches: Salem, 1692, this Sibert Honor book for young readers features unique scratchboard illustrations, chilling primary source material, and powerful narrative to tell the true tale. 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 ofSchool Library Journal's 100 Magnificent Children's Books and one of Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best Children's Books.
Ownership: Borrowed from library
Genre: YA/MG Non-fiction
Publisher: The National Geographic Society
Price: $16.95 (hardcover);
Place: Amazon, B & N, Book Depository, GoodReads, IndieBound
Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer initially peaked my interest because I was obsessed with the Salem Witch Trials when I was younger. I remember reading a lot about the event/time period after reading A Break With Charity by Ann Rinaldi in fifth grade. I’ve always been fascinated with how the hysteria of that time lead to such violence and fear. What truly caused all this fear and all the accusations? How could one area, just a few young girls, and a misguided court system sentence so many innocent people to their death (or into poverty afterwards) without anyone else raising arms about what was happening? There are a lot of theories for how this tragic event occurred and of course no one can know for sure how this all happened. However, that hasn’t stopped me from reading up on it and constantly being drawn to the subject.
As I said above, this title was on a list of texts that I was able to choose from to read for class. I chose this novel and M. T. Anderson’s Symphony for the City of the Dead. This being the shorter of the two & on a subject that interests me greatly, I delved into it first. I picked up the book as I sat to board my flight to Buffalo, NY for a quick girls’ trip with my friends to Niagara Falls. I started it right there in the terminal and finished it on my flight. It probably took an hour and a half at most to read, which for an informational text targeted to a young adult audience really knows its audience and will appeal to younger readers. I loved that the text was a quick read! Not only that, but it was immersive as well.
From the bat, the illustrations draw you in. The author notes that she “decided to do the artwork in black and white with a few small red accents” because the “tale is so very dark in tone” (144). And I have to say her decision was spot on! The artwork works so well within this text because it not only compliments the darker tone of the subject, but also draws the reader’s interest by displaying non-realistic and more metaphorical images that are interpretive of the text’s contents. Additionally, the artwork does a great job of breaking up the text, which to some younger readers is a must-need to keep their interest in a non-fiction work.
The writing and organization of the information was also well done. Schanzer does a great job of making this informational text read like a narrative. She also does a great job of weaving in primary sources by interjecting the text with quotes from actual court trials of some of the accused as well as quotes from various primary sources such as letters and diaries. I really enjoyed her inclusion of these quotes. It not only brought the narrative and time period to life, but it also added credence to this text as being a well researched and accurate one. I also enjoyed how she included information on some of the accused after they were released and the trials were suspended. Schanzer even includes information on what happened to some of the accusers, some of the government officials, and some of the relatives/families that lost loved ones to the trials. Let’s just say that the recompense offered to some of the families who lost their loved ones was not nearly what should have been given to them.
Overall, I found this text to not only be informative and accurate, but also entertaining. The quickness of the book along with the narrative writing style and interesting artwork makes this informational text one to add to your shelves if you’re at all interested in the topic! I definitely recommend it to any non-fiction lovers, especially those interested in the Salem Witch Trials. Furthermore, I’d also recommend this to young readers (Middle Grade & Young Adult) who are looking for an interesting and quick non-fiction read. Definitely one to add to your collection if you’re a librarian in my opinion 🙂
- Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer was a quick and immersive read!
- From the bat, the illustrations draw you in. The artwork works so well within this text because it not only compliments the darker tone of the subject, but also draws the reader’s interest.
- The writing and organization of the information was also well done. Schanzer does a great job of making this informational text read like a narrative.
- She also does a great job of weaving in primary sources by interjecting the text with quotes.
- 5 STARS! Overall, I found this text to not only be informative and accurate, but also entertaining. The quickness of the book along with the narrative writing style and interesting artwork makes this informational text one to add to your shelves if you’re at all interested in the topic!
Thanks for stopping by! Have you read this non-fiction title? What are you’re thoughts on this book? on the Salem Witch Trials? Do you have any favorite (or recommended) non-fiction titles?
As always, Happy Reading!
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