Month: January 2014

Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem


  • History related title
  • Age Range: Grades 5-high school
  • Author: Rosalyn Schanzer
  • Title: Witches! : The absolutely true tale of disaster in Salem
  • Publisher: Washington, D.C. :, National Geographic Society
  • 2011
  • 144 pages.
  • ISBN: 978-1-4263-0869-7
  • Awards: Society of Illustrators Gold Medal for Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2011~2012 Robert F. Sibert Honor Award~ALA Notable Children’s Book~School Library Journal Starred Review and Best Book of the Year~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~Included in Communication Arts Magazine’s May/June 2012 Annual Illustration Issue
  • Author’s website:, Author’s video:

Strong black and white graphics compliment vivid, rhythmic and colorful language that details the story of the Salem witch trials. Accused of deviltry, hundreds had their reputations, livelihoods and lives ruined; more than twenty lost their lives.

Schanzer’s excellent illustrations both set the mood and help keep the many characters straight in the reader’s mind. Her well-researched account seamlessly blends background material, authorial exposition and primary sources to create a vivid and unforgettable account that is enhanced by effective book design.

An index, portrait chronology of accused and accusers, and a preface set the stage. Back matter includes notes, an extensive bibliography, index and an author’s note that describes how she clarified and abridged some primary documents: original text can be found through the notes.


The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students


  • Diversity related title
  • Age Range: Grades 7-high school
  • Author: Suzanne Jurmain
  • Title: The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students.
  • Publisher: Boston :, Houghton Mifflin
  • 2005
  • 150 pages.
  • ISBN: 978-0618-47302-1
  • Awards: An Orbis Pictus Honor Book~ALA Notable Children’s Book~ALA Best Book for Young Adults~Booklist Editor’s Choice~ Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book for 2005~Booklist Top 10 Black History Book for Youth~James Madison Book Award Honor Book~SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Award Winner~Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts~ Once Upon a World Honor Book.
  • Author’s website:

In 1833, when respectable women were expected to be demure and unassuming, Prudence Crandall caused a firestorm of protest and outrage. Her efforts to open a school for African-American girls sent shock-waves through her Connecticut town and the nation.

Jurmain tells an important story that helps fill in the vast gaps between slavery and the civil rights movement. An effective use of historical bullet points early on immerses the reader in the tenor of the times. While extensive research allows a clear picture of the conflict to emerge and there are plenty of direct quotes, the account is padded with supposition about what people likely thought or said.

Front matter includes contents, an acknowledgment and a note to the reader about the use of historic race words. Back matter includes an epilogue that briefly describes African American education from the Civil War to the present, an extensive appendix of facts about Crandall’s students, friends & enemies, notes on sources, an extensive bibliography, photo credits and an index.