Wednesday, November 23, 2011

249-251 (2011 #s 54-56). Three Kid/Teen Books About The Salem Witch Trials

After reading the fictional The Heretic's Daughter for my local book club, I felt I needed some more background information on the Salem witch trials before our discussion. I forgot to check my university library for books before leaving for the weekend, so I checked my local public library instead. I found three books on the topic, one in the juvenile section, and the other two in the young adult section.

The Devil in Salem Village, by Laurel Van Der Linde, is a short (72 pages) overview of the trials aimed at grades 4 to 6.  Early chapters on witchcraft and life in Salem provide background for the trials. The straightforward narrative makes few interpretations and conclusions, and is enhanced by quotations from transcripts of the trials as well as interesting illustrations.  A chronology, suggested further reading, bibliography, and index wind up the book.

Figures of the Salem Witch Trials, by Stuart A. Kallen, is a collective biography of key figures from this event, aimed at middle school and high school students.  After a foreword and introduction, there are five chapters, each 14 to 17 pages long, about accused witches Tituba and Rebecca Nurse, accusing pastors Samuel Parris and Cotton Mather, and Judge Samuel Sewell.  Many illustrations, including maps and photographs, highlight the text.  Endnotes, a chronology, two annotated bibliographies, and an index complete the 112-page book.

Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials, by Sibert Award winner Marc Aronson, is definitely aimed at teens. Aronson presents many different interpretations of the events, drawing on a variety of sources, which he details in extensive endnotes with comments. There's also an epilogue comparing many of these sources, along with an appendix focusing on Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible. A timeline, bibliography, and index round out this well researched 272-page book, and Aronson provides a 44-page study guide on his website.

© Amanda Pape - 2011

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