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The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History Hardcover – 7 Sep 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (7 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689846207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689846205
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 1 x 26.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 565,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

In 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, witnessed one of the saddest and most inexplicable chapters in American history. When a group of girls came down with a horrible, mysterious bout of illness, the town doctor looked in his medical books but failed to find a reasonable diagnosis. Pretty soon everyone in town was saying the same thing: The girls were ill because they were under a spell, the spell of witchcraft! And still, the question remains: Why did the hysteria occur? The townspeople had many things to worry about back then: smallpox, strife with the local Indians, a preacher demanding higher wages, and the division of land in the community. But did all of those problems justify a witch hunt? Become a detective as you read this true story, study the clues, and try to understand the hysteria! The Unsolved Mystery from History series is written by acclaimed author Jane Yolen and former private investigator Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple. This is an innovative history lesson that's sure to keep kids thinking throughout.

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When I grow up, I want to be a detective, just like my dad. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 9 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
An investigative approach for young readers exploring the Salem Witch Trials 20 July 2007
By Z Hayes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up at my local library, keen to know how the authors and illustrator approached a dark theme in our history catering to younger readers [Grades 3-6]. I was pleased with the approach as though it doesn't provide comprehensive details on the events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials, it does have a unique approach.

The illustrations are done in somber hues, which enhance the bleakness of the period in which the events occur. There are boxed texts explaining how the witch trials unfolded, and difficult phrases or words are explained, also in boxed text.

What I liked about the book was its investigative approach. The reader is given a set of leading and thought-provoking questions at the end of the book which are meant to help the reader come to his/her own conclusions about the true origins of the historical event. A possible set of hypotheses are provided for us to ponder over, and the questions are simple [as they are aimed at a younger audience], yet thought-provoking.

All in all, this is a refreshing approach to a significant event in US history, simply written and beautifully illustrated.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great Jumping Off Point for Discussion and Research 20 May 2008
By Amy Aldrich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Children's detective stories seem to be perpetually "in," and The Salem Witch Trials: An Untold Mystery from History (as with others in this series) plays on that theme successfully. Without giving us a name, the author introduces us to the narrator, a young girl who is curious...a trait that every detective needs! This young lady isn't curious about just anything, she's particularly curious about her fathers file of mysteries that have never been solved..."histories mysteries." The narrator then goes on to detail her "process" for trying to figure out the given mystery...first she reads as much as she can about the incident, learning everything she can, and she keeps a notebook of the most important clues and information. Some of the books in this series include maps and timelines (though this one does not)! This particular "case" focuses on The Salem Witch Trials (its possible causes).

With that bit out of the way, the book transforms into a fact filled narrative of the events, starting with the long cold winter of 1692, leading into the various events that lead up to the witch trials and ending with a summery of five of the most popular theories "what really happened." This final section is done in the notebook style, and the narrator has included questions for the reader to answer, which if answered, will help the reader figure out which of the theories are most likely...at the very least, it's an excellent opportunity for a class project (dividing students up into groups and each exploring a given theory and presenting to the class, with discussion at the end on which of the theories are most likely...and maybe even encouraging students to come up with their own theories!). The story ends with the narrator saying she's really not sure WHICH theory is right...but she's got her own and now she hopes you (the reader) do too.

Each two page spread (illustration done in subtle tones which emphasize the bleak New England winters and adds to the somber tone of the Puritan lifestyle) is given a narrative box and most include "post-it" style pink, yellow and orange boxes which define terms used in the narrative box and most include a cut out of a spiral notebook which is meant to be the narrator taking her notes...which provides additional information and/or perspective on the information given in the narrative box. I love the section on the theories...the way they are presented with questions that the reader should be able to answer directly out of the text and/or with minimal additional research. I really do think this would make an excellent group project for a classroom, or the jumping off point for a written report by a single student...or just interesting reading!! I'd say this book is idea for kids ages 4-10, as a real aloud to about age 6, older kids will enjoy reading this alone...the text is EASY...but the opportunity for exploring the theories and doing additional research is what I think makes it suitable for readers 8-10. I give it five stars and think it would make a fine addition to any classroom or school library. I love the format; it presents the necessary information (and definitions) on the page (without flipping back and forth to a glossary) in a way that doesn't detract from the narrative or the illustrations. There is a bibliography, but it's located in the front of the book, just before the title page, rather than in the back. Pick this up for your curious young reader, you won't be disappointed!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Preteen drama, Puritan style 30 Aug. 2011
By M. Heiss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
We like this series of books -- "Unsolved Mystery from History." Even young children can understand the format -- short bits of text, author's sidebars, brief definitions of vocabulary words, and then a summary of the clues at the end that lead your child to draw a conclusion. A little guidance from the author; nothing too pushy.

The vocabulary in this book includes terms like: smallpox, reprisal, revoked, convulsed, ailments...

Roger Roth did a lovely job with the illustrations -- he gives you a lot of attractive residents in Salem, Mass. Tituba as presented here is a bit of a hottie. (Sexual attractiveness/suspicion is *not* one of the possible solutions given in this book, but given human nature, it is a likely possibility.)
The Salem Witch Trials: an Unsolved Mystery from history 18 April 2013
By Christine Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is great and kind of like gives u the experience to see/live in the time of the Salem Witch Trails!!! The book was so good that I forced my family to go the Wax Museum based on the Salem Witch Trials!!!!

TW. age 12
Good historical narrative for grades 4-6... 22 Nov. 2012
By Trish9 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I used this book to tell this sad story in our early history to grades 4-5. It is a good choice
for struggling readers; the illustrations and the vocabulary boxes help convey meaning.
Nicely done- it makes history accessible to all!
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