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The Devil

The Absolutely True Tale of
Disaster in Salem

Publisher: National Geographic, September 2011: Young Adult
Hardcover: ISBN: 978-1-4263-0869-7     Buy It! 
Kindle: ASIN: B004J4X2YE
Genre: Nonfiction/ History       

About the Book

It was January, 1692, and as an icy winter wind shrieked through Salem Village, Massachusetts, two young girls began to twitch and choke and contort their bodies into strange abnormal shapes and speak in words that made no sense. Their family tried every remedy in the book, but nothing worked. Finally a doctor announced his dire diagnosis: The girls were BEWITCHED! And then the accusations began. This book tells the gripping true story of the victims, accused witches, scheming officials, and mass hysteria that turned a mysterious illness afflicting two children into a witch hunt that took 20 lives and ruined hundreds more.

Click Here to See the Trailer

Click Here to see 6 engaging and informative lesson plans
connecting CCSS classroom activities directly to this book.
Click here for another one

Prepared by Dr. Rose Reissman, Literacy Specialist and CCSS Alignment consultant

Awards and Reviews





~Society of Illustrators Gold Medal for Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2011   

~2012 Robert F. Sibert Honor Award as one of the year's
  5 most distinguished informational books for children

~ALA Notable Children's Book

~School Library Journal Starred Review and Best Book of the Yeardog and witch cake

~NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book

~A Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2011

~NY Public Library's 25 Best Nonfiction Titles of 2011

~A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book

~Fuse #8 list of 100 Magnificent Children's Books of 2011

~Kid Lit Frenzy top 5 Middle Grade Picks of 2011

~Selected for inclusion in CA (Communication Arts) Magazine’s
  May/June 2012 Annual Illustration Issue


"...readers will be stunned by the research and accusations in this pivotal drama of American history" Sibert Award Committee

“Spooky red-and-black scratchboard artwork adds an eerie note to this unusually objective and detailed account.” New York Public Library

“Sometimes I wish I could sit down with my 10-year-old self and have a conversation…“So what,” I might say, “would it take to get you to read nonfiction?” Even from a distance of twenty-three years I can feel the resistance to such a notion. Then I’d pull out my secret weapon: Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem. The cover? Enticing. The subject? Not off-putting. The overall presentation? Enthralling.” Betsy Bird’s Fuse #8 list of 100 Magnificent Children's Books of 2011

“This small book is fascinating to read.  I couldn't put it down.” Kid Lit Frenzy

“Schanzer has written and illustrated what is sure to be one of the most talked about nonfiction titles of 2011...If you teach American history, Witches would be an excellent resource for information on the witch trials in Salem. An interesting comparison would be to contrast this event with the McCarthy era ‘Red Scare’ of the mid 20th century.”
Jeff Barger at NC Teacher Stuff

“With text that flows like a dramatic novel, Schanzer brings readers into the famous Salem trials, asking them to ponder the motivations of the accusers and the tribulations of the accused. Black-and-white prints with red accents are wonderfully evocative and set an appropriately horrific tone.” School Library Journal

“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.”
Starred Review School Library Journal

“Amid stunning accusations involving convulsions, torture and sightings of the Devil, Schanzer manages to fit some wry touches into the dark story (one accused witch ran a tavern where ‘the evil game of shuffleboard’ was played), and her chapter-opening illustrations — full of red eyes, forked tongues and possessed creatures — cast their own captivating spells.” The Washington Post

“I came across this book at the library and took it on home on a whim -- and then couldn't put it down. Schanzer's a rare talent: Her prose is fresh and readable; her illustrations superb. This is one of those nonfiction books that holds its own with any novel.” Goodreads

“If you’re looking to delve into the tragedy of the Salem witch hunts, you can’t ask for more than a clear and concise account of the events leading up to and following the trials, provides a host of notes, sources, and extra reading, all while maintaining the effortless tone of a seasoned storyteller and accompanied by artwork that evokes the menacing terror of the time. Schanzer’s contribution is just that book… Sure to be useful in school projects or as a companion to the requisite Crucible unit…”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“…stunning art and scrupulous research... it is important to try to understand why such events occurred so we might avoid making similar mistakes and judgments today.” Washington Parent

“For the smart, stunning Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem, Rosalyn Schanzer chose a subject that is well suited to her talents as a writer and illustrator: the mass hysteria that erupted in Salem, Massachusetts, and led to more than 150 arrests and 20 executions. Schanzer’s appealing storyteller’s style will draw readers into this strangest of episodes in American history and keep them riveted… This fine book will also attract students who have read The Crucible and want the complete story behind the play.” Children’s Literature







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