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Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem
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Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  2,621 ratings  ·  578 reviews
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 b
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by National Geographic Kids (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  2,621 ratings  ·  578 reviews

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Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sometimes I wish I could sit down with my 10-year-old self and have a conversation. We’d chat about the improvements that will come to fashion someday (I think 10-year-old me would really appreciate knowing that 1988 was America's low point), the delight to be found in School House Rock and eventually I’d turn the conversation to books. From there we’d give praise to good Apple paperbacks like The Girl With the Silver Eyes or pretty much anything with a ghost in it (does anyone even remember Gho ...more
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
It might be strange, but the first thing that struck me about Witches, once I had my hands on it, was the size and shape. I've read a fair few of National Geographic's YA and middle grade nonfiction, and they tend to be large, with gorgeous, glossy covers. Schanzer's book is going an entirely different route. It's small, even smaller than an average paperback, and the cover is a black and white, engraving-like illustration. And it looks really, really cool. The illustrations inside are very simi ...more
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Very easily readable novel and easily understandable (chapters are relatively short)

** Decided, since it's October and this seems to be a "spooky" month, to do a short side trip to Salem, Massachusetts **

I absolutely love the Salem Witch Trials . . . I am still baffled yet intrigued as to how this dark period of America's history was allowed to happen, yet no one stopped it or tried to make it right.

This is my second non fiction read this year on this topic. My first wa
3.5 out of 5
Since I knew absolutely nothing about the Salem witch trials before, Schanzer's Witches! was a great introduction to the subject: short, engaging and beautifully illustrated (gorgeous black-and-white with a sprinkle of red scratchboard illustrations are done by the author!).

Witches! is well-researched, as evident from the back matter consisting of extensive source notes, bibliography, index and author's note. Schanzer also does a great job making a very clear distinction between fact
Jun 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Religion kills. And tortures innocent people. May it be in Salem - witches!! - or in Iraq - boom splashes of blood, or in Philippines - 333 years of slavery anyone? it does. It would be stupid of you to deny that.
Jun 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Excellent book about the Salem witch trials!
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: info-bios
Suggested Grade Levels: Middle School to High School
Genre: Informational (Chapter Book)
Historical Topic: Salem Witch Trials
Themes: Conformity and Scapegoating
Awards: Many awards, but most notable are Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor, 2012 Notable Children’s Books (ALSC) and 2011 School Library Journal Best Books.

This is an informational text that takes on a novelistic approach. The true tale of the Salem Witch trials unfolds with learning of the hardships of Salem’s Reverend Samuel Parr
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it
In 1692 in the village of Salem Massachusetts, two girls have fallen ill. Their bodies contort and they are speaking in a strange tongue. The diagnoses: Bewitched. The story of the Salem witch trials began with the accusation of three women and soon any and everyone was being accused. In the end, the witch hunts affected many, killing over a dozen and ruining the lives of countless others. One of the accused was sentenced to jail with her infant child in tow. The black, white and red artwork ad ...more
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Puritans be whack.

Perfect little stylized book. Small sized, cool/creepy woodcut illustrations, great use of black white and red, brief, etc. It looks cool. When I opened the box of books, this is the one I took home to read that night.

That said, it took me three attempts over a week to sit down and read it. I had a hard time not skimming. Two real reasons: 1) Puritans are the worst. 2) at times it seemed like fact, name, name, name, fact, name, name

I get it. Schanzer's trying to cram a giant ch
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
We sell this in the gift shop of one of the historic sites I work at, and I've had my eye on it for a while, since witches and history and #spookyaesthetics are My Thing. I finally got my hands on a copy after ages and ages, and I'm so pleased to say that I really liked this book!

The illustrations are lovely, but I actually really (surprisingly) enjoyed the text of this book more than the illustrations! This is a non-fiction book for youth (a genre that I've read surprisingly little of) and I wa
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
While I've heard of the Salem Witch Trials, I'm still shocked by how much local politics and petty jealousies played into the accusations. Compelling and well-researched. Stunning design with black, red, and white scratch board illustrations. ...more
This is certainly a high interest piece for a low level reader. I have some nitpicky opinions about the use of several outdated terms (the book is new enough that they could have done better).

Despite that I know kids would like this, I will stay away from it in favor of something more progressive.
Shannan Schoemaker
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the interest of full disclosure what drew me to Witches was its fascinating cover art and illustrations throughout. The cover lures its audience in with a black, white and red rendition of a split persona, that of the white sweet innocent puritan woman and the other half depicted as what else but a “witch.” Possessing a red squinted eye, a scornful frown and inked in all black, needless to say the cover looked fascinating. I was expecting a melodramatic filled historic fiction about the witch ...more
Katia M. Davis
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A relatively short look at the witch trials. Some quite interesting information on the background and references to transcripts. A good little read if you enjoy reading about the history of witches or instances of accusations. I read it because I am fascinated by the 'mass hysteria' type phenomenon often cited and the cultural history behind this phenomenon. It is interesting to try and place yourself in a mindset where something such as spectral evidence was legitimate to an argument. ...more
BAM Endlessly Booked
Audio #117

Great older children’s introduction to the Salem witch trials
Accurate accounting of events
Good explanations
Full cast of characters
Nothing held back just written on a simpler level
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: elm-335-wow
A National Geographic novel for students, Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer is a thrilling nonfiction, informational text detailing the actual events of the Salem Witch Trials. A modern twist on a historical text, Witches would be appropriate for 5th graders and up as it outlines an intense part of history. This text would require students to look beyond the surface and allow students to step into history. As I was reading, I was absolutely immersed in th ...more
Savannah W
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem, by Rosalyn Schanzer is a Non-Fiction book about witch accusations, that had occurred in the town of Salem, in the beginning of the year of 1692. (Publication year: 2011) I, not being a nonfiction fan, actually liked this book. To me it deserves at least three stars. I'm giving this book three stars because it wasn't boring like a nonfiction hater would presume. The main conflict in this book was that people were being accused of being witch ...more
Jackson Sennhenn
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book, “Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem,” is an interesting book. The small history book is packed with action and surprises, without sounding fake. The moments when someone important is accused are some of the most well described moments in the story. The suspense and frustration that grows inside you when reading this book is heavy. You are reading the questions in the trials, and a person pleads guilty, by the accusers and “judges” don’t believe them. The things th ...more
Emily Arrant
Summary: This book starts off with two girls from Salem Village, Massachusetts. One day these two girls started twitching and their bodies began to contort into weird shapes. A doctor tried to cure them but he could not find a cure. The mysterious illness turned into a witch-hunt that ruined a lot of people’s life. This book shows what people will do just to blame someone else so that they can cover up for themselves.

Evaluation: I liked this book. However, this book could be a little too violen
Brittany Gaskins
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it
The images in the book were a little dark for a child to read and have these pictures in mind as they read. Some of the words seemed a little harder for certain age groups, but it is a good book to tie in with the history of the town of Salem. I remember reading a play about Salem Witch trials and it was more interesting and easier to follow that this was.

This was not one of my favorites but it did align well with the historic facts of Salem. It would be better with an older age group and as a c
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: informational
UNBELIEVABLE! The things that people did to justify their fears, ignorance, and power hunger.
The witches of Salem is a dark chapter of US history. I am sure there are many people that are attracted to that theme these days, but for fun and curiosity. Not in 1662. Those considered witches were hung. I listened to this book on axis 360. I would recommend for middle school and older. It is not scary, but there is a lot of accusations and assassinations. It is also a great book to draw a parallel w
Kristen McNicholas
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
In this short book, I learned more about the witch trials than I had known previously! I recognized many of the names but I liked how Schanzer outlined the key figures. It's written simply and in chronological order so it's super easy to follow. She also includes MANY sources and a full bibliography. It's a good beginner witch history in the US book. I just wish it had a little more detail but doesn't take away from the overall story. ...more
A well-written narrative of the Salem witch trials. It would have been better with more information about the causes of the witch hunt, but a good read nonetheless. The illustrations were outstanding!
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
While the text reveals nothing I didn't already know, it was written in an engaging way. The images accompanying this book are absolutely amazing, though, with texture beyond a two-dimensional page.
Sophie Jane
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was just amazing! Rosalyn Schanzer brought the horrifying history of the Salem witch trials to life. Including excerpts from primary sources to the beautiful artwork made the tale that much more authentic. The intensity of everything added so much the atmosphere of the topic and the book.
Alyssa Poulin
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it
This audiobook succeeded in doing just what I had hoped for; it provided a quick overview of the Salem Witch Trials.
Nathan Hipple
Jan 12, 2021 rated it liked it
This book was solid. It did what it set out to do and gave a more in depth look at the Salem witch trials. I felt like it hit an awkward middle ground between trying to do too much and not enough at the same time. It tried to cover all the people, but not in enough depth to keep most people straight by the time things go totally over the cliff. It's a solid intro look at the topic that starts and ends strong, but don't expect much more from it. The illustrations are freaking GORGEOUS, though. Th ...more
Olivia Lullie
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chapter, books-1-10
This book tells the story of the Salem Witch Trials in 1600s. It discusses the mass hysteria within Massachusetts led by the townspeople and officials within the city. It begins with background information about the Puritans and their beliefs along with a man named Samuel Parris and his family. The book takes the readers on a journey from when the trials began all the way to the devastating ending.

The author, Rosalyn Schanzer, did a fantastic job with this novel. The organizat
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book takes us way back to when many people were killed in Salem for supposedly being witches. I myself only gave it two stars because it is in a very formal format. It tells us exactly what happened in court when I was expecting something very different. However, if you like history ~ very exact history ~ then I would definitely recommend!
Michelle Stimpson
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I decided to spend this summer reading more YA and MG nonfiction and ordered up a bunch of titles from my library, kind of at random, and feel lucky that I came across this book. I was surprised at how much I didn't know about the Salem Witch Trials and enjoyed the structure of this book and the authors focus on the characters of those that make up the story: the accused, the accusers, and those who were brave enough to speak out against the whole thing. ...more
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Madison County NC...: Witches 1 1 Nov 04, 2020 07:29AM  
Play Book Tag: Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem/Schanzer/5 Stars 4 14 Aug 03, 2018 01:16PM  
Mrs. Anderson's E...: Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of the Disaster in Salem 1 4 Mar 10, 2016 08:59PM  
Mrs. Young- WItch...: Predictions 2 7 Sep 19, 2014 08:42AM  
Informational Book 1 4 Dec 02, 2013 11:40AM  

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