Book Review: The Salem Witch Trials

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

Other Books in This Series

Roanoke: The Lost Colony
Wolf Girls: An Unsolved Mystery from History

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The mother-and-daughter team of Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple have turned their Mysteries from History series attention to one of colonial America's most enduring horror stories, the Salem Witch Trials. As with other books in this series, the format is that of a detective's notebook, with the reader having everything he or she needs to draw an informed conclusion as to what really happened: facts, a notebook full of notes, a glossary to help you decode complex words and concepts, and illustrations that help complete the picture of the time period in which this historical mystery took place.

In this case, the time is 1692 and the place is Salem, Massachusetts. The mystery is this: How did a God-fearing community of 550 convince themselves that 20 of their friends and neighbors were trafficking in sorcery and witchcraft and deserved to die? Further, what compelled the community to kill these people?

The facts are many and the notes telling. The reader is also asked to put himself or herself in the shoes of someone living in Salem at the time. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable re-examination of this deadly oddity from colonial history. And to help you the detective make up your mind, the authors have suggested some possible answers, with questions attached to stimulate your thinking those areas.

With the caveat that this book includes some new facts and evidence based on recent research, you the reader have a new way of looking at an old problem. So, put on your thinking cap and go to it!

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