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

Booklist Reviews 2011 November #1
The Salem witch trials is a topic amply covered in fiction and nonfiction, but Schanzer's take stands apart, thanks to her effective artwork. One of the main problems with telling the story is that there are so many people involved, from the accusers and the accused to the clergy and kith and kin. Simply reading the narrative, fresh as it is, might still confuse readers. So Schanzer provides black-and-white scratch-board illustrations, accented and heightened with a devilish red, beginning with small individual portraits of the cast. Throughout, it's the eye-catching art and the handsome design that will keep readers turning the pages. Not that the story itself isn't fascinating. Between the terror and torture, to say nothing of witches flying about on brooms and biting people, there's plenty to hold kids' attentions. But in spots where the narrative sags under the weight of its twists and turns, the imaginative pictures still make it sail. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Schanzer (How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark) turns her attention to the Salem Witch Trials to powerful effect. Her small book, complete with scratchboard illustrations and vivid red accents, recounts the horrors of the witch-hunting hysteria. Good organization and effective illustrations are helpful for keeping the complex material manageable for the audience. Bib., ind.

School Library Journal Reviews 2011 December

Gr 7-9--Schanzer succinctly re-creates the hysteria, confusion, and tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials in this compact and evocative overview. In a conversational tone, she poignantly describes the religious fervor of the Puritans and the ease with which neighbors and family members accused one another (and even domestic animals) of witchcraft. From the "testimony" of witnesses, to the courtroom proceedings, and to the eventual realization that the accusations and trials were nearing epic in proportion, the author effortlessly guides readers through this bizarre moment in American history. Several theories regarding the causes for the witchcraft hysteria and the "fits" experienced by many of the accused are addressed, but no definite answers are promoted or advocated. Primary-source material consisting of courtroom testimony is woven throughout the narrative; spelling is modernized, and occasional passages are abridged for better understanding. The "What Happened Next" final chapter details the often-tragic ends for the unjustly accused; information on the accusers and the officials is also included. Schanzer's top-notch stylized black-and-white illustrations highlighted with small touches of red extend and enhance the text.--Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

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VOYA Reviews 2011 December
What is the true story of the accused witches of Salem, Massachusetts? How were they drawn into the frenzy, and why did so many people die before it was stopped? In this short book, Schanzer addresses these questions and others as she tries to unravel what really happened in 1692. Readers are immediately introduced to a few of the witches and their accusers, complete with portraits. Once the players are set, the reader learns just how miserable it was in the Massachusetts colony that freezing cold winter before the accusations began. Once the accusations start, no one is safe, and it eventually comes to be that if you confess to being a witch and accuse others, you are treated better and housed in a nicer part of the jail. After Giles Corey is put to death in a torturous way, public opinion begins to turn against the trials The dark cover art and dramatic illustrations of demons and tribunals lend an air of foreboding to the book, as Schanzer attempts to make sense of the tragedies that occurred during this time. She offers several theories as to why the accusations were made and why the accused acted in the sometimes bizarre way that they did. In the chapter "What Happened Next," she explores the aftereffects of the trials on the officials, the accusers, and the innocent. While the writing is a bit formal for casual reading, students will be drawn to the topic and the small size of the book.--Lynn Evarts $16.95. ISBN 978-1426308697. Notes. Biblio. Index. 4Q 2P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.