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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 ·  2,333 ratings  ·  544 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
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by National Geographic Society (first published January 1st 2011)
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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. Wed 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 Id turn the conversation to books. From there wed 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 Ghost ...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 ...more
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
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.
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 ...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Audio #117

Great older childrens 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
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.
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
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 Childrens 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 Salems Reverend Samuel
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.
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 ...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 ...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 dont believe them. The things that ...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 peoples 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 violent
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
Randi Kennedy
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!
Sophie J
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.
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.
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
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!
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rll520-info-bios
I read this as my non-print requirement.

This book starts out with black and white images of people that were accused witches. Among these people are Tituba, the slave that took care of Salems Villages Reverend Samuel Parris. Animals were animals accused as well. Next, afflicted accusers and other witch hunters are displayed. Each name is accompanied with a black and white image as well. It also says whom these people accused to be witches.

The first chapter starts out informing the reader of
May 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: informational
*Susan Hart
*Schanzer, R. (2011). Witches!: the absolutely true tale of disaster in Salem. Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society.
*Selected from awards listings
*ALA Notable Children's Book 2011, 2012Robert F. Sibert Honor Award, 2011 Society of Illustrators Gold Medal

* Witches: The absolutely true tale of disaster in Salem is a short little book with a big punch from the National Geographic Society, which examines the sordid Salem witch trials. Right from the
Nov 20, 2015 rated it liked it
The nonfiction book Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer will fascinate you. The events shared in this book were incredible but true. In 1692, several women in colonial Massachusetts were accused and convicted of witchcraft. Tituba, Sarah Good, Dorcas Good, Sarah Osborn, Martha Cory, Elizabeth Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Cloyse & Mary Easty, Bridget Bishop, and Mary English were accused of being witches by the many afflicted people. Reverend Samuel ...more
Tammy J
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Witches is a book about the telling of the Salem Witch Trials.The story was set in 1692. I loved that it does go in chronological order. What would be helpful when reading would be a timeline so you know what happened when. Even a graphic organizer so you can tell the characters and how they are related. The author/illustrator does a great job of laying out the book. There are pictures in each chapter and at the beginning an overview of the people in Salem accused and not accused. The setting of ...more
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
At first I thought this was the kid's version of The Witches: Salem 1692 but Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem covers many things that the much longer book didn't. The fantastic and spooky artwork can't be beat. This might be too scary for younger children what with innocent people being tortured and hanged.
Audience: Intermediate

Genre: Nonfiction

Discussion Questions

Remembering: According to the Preface (yes, you actually do need to read that) what events may cause suspicion that a witch is working his or her evil magic? Who might be accused of being a witch?

Understanding: Who were the Puritans and what made them different from other European immigrants to the New World?

Applying: What do you think may have caused Betty and Abigail Parris to "twitch and choke and contort their bodies into
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: info-bios
Wow!!! What an informational piece of text! It kind of spooked me!
I have heard of the Salem Witch Trials that took place during the 17th century, but never clearly understood it or how it came about. This text gave me a great insight to the events that occurred during this time.
Puritans were being falsely accused and condemned as witches. Trials were held with no real evidence. Much of the history that took place with these witch trials were solely based on gossip. Many were tortured,
Angela Bailey
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Title / Author / Publication Date:
Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem. / Rosalyn Schanzer. / 2011.

Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction.

Format: Book - print. 144 pages.

Plot summary:
"Shares the story of the victims, accused witches, corrupt officials, and mass hysteria that turned a mysterious illness affecting two children in Salem Village, Massachusetts, into a witch hunt that took more than a dozen lives and ruined hundreds more" (NoveList).

Considerations or precautions for readers
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This tragedy began when two little girls started twitching and hallucinating, but it quickly began spiraling out of control and ruining lives. People were faking symptoms, accusing women, men, children and even dogs of being witches. Honestly, there where a few parts where I literally laughed out loud. Not because people being hung are funny, but because some of the accusations were completely ridiculous. The evidence was not even circumstantial: just what people said they saw or felt.

There are
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