Friday, June 29, 2012

Review of Who Were the Accused Witches of Salem?

This series of books attempts to explain notable historical events in America by answering six basic questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Who Were the Accused Witches of Salem? focuses on the Salem Witch trials of the 1600s. At the end of the book, readers are encouraged to answer the same questions as a reading comprehension exercise.

The language of the book is easy to understand. They even altered the spelling of some of the Old English words, to make it easier for kids to read. I have mixed emotions about that. Yes, I agree with making a text easy to read, but there is something to be said for the historical aspect of reading the original English.

Another attempt to modernize the story for today's generations is including little factboxes within pictures of smartphones and other modern technology. For example, a map showing where Salem can be found is illustrated on a GPS screen.

Vocabulary words have definitions right on the page, next to the text in a little blue box. Each vocabulary word is outlined in blue, with a line leading to the little fact box. While this is helpful in drawing attention to the definitions, I personally found it distracting to have all of the lines in the middle of the text. I would have preferred to have the vocabulary word bold-faced, even in the blue color. The definition could still be in the small blue box in the margin, but also include the vocabulary word so as to not confuse them.

I do love the real paintings and drawings from the time that are included in the book. Suggestions for further reading and research follow the index at the end.

I felt the books was quite informative. I learned a few tidbits about which I wasn't aware prior to reading this book, though I have read about the trials before. It is a great resource for upper elementary and up.

I received a complimentary set of galleys in exchange for my honest review.

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