The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History (Unsolved Mystery from History (Hardcover)) Hardcover – 7 Sep 2004
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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!
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.)
for struggling readers; the illustrations and the vocabulary boxes help convey meaning.
Nicely done- it makes history accessible to all!
TW. age 12