Book du Jour:WITCHES! THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE TALE OF DISASTER IN SALEM by Rosalyn Schanzer (National Geographic)
Ask: does your child know about the Salem Witch Trials? How about you?! Then you need this little chapbook, so chillingly adorned with black, white and red scratchboard illustrations and teeming with the primary sources and historical regret that the subject deserves. You also need WITCH HUNT: MYSTERIES OF THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS by Marc Aronson, which does a good job of exploring the role of peer pressure in the trials, making it very relevant to tweenagers, and Milton Meltzer's WITCHES AND WITCH HUNTS: A HISTORY OF PERSECUTION, written by a master of non-fiction and putting witch-hunts and their head devils in a historical and modern context (including Hitler and McCarthy). Of course, my favorite nonfiction about witches is contained in WITCHES by Erica Jong, which is full of many dirty and beautiful and disturbing illustrations and writing. I don't think is for children, although I received it on request when I was thirteen, and it is worth noting that I still did enjoy it very much.
And if your older, fiction-loving familiar has somehow wearied of Elizabeth George Speare's Newbery-winning Salem standby THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND, try Celia Rees's WITCH CHILD for kids needing a more contemporary, and possibly independently accessible approach to the topic. (All for readers 11 and up, except for Erica Jong.)
Happy Banned Books Week.
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