Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials
Hemphill, Stephanie. 2010. WICKED GIRLS: A NOVEL OF THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061853289 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
Using some of the actual accusers’ voices, Hemphill relates the ever-fascinating story of the Salem witch hunts in this strong verse novel. Major players from history, Mercy Lewis, Ann Putnam, and Margaret (Mary) Walcott, provide a look into their lives through alternating poems. Readers will empathize with the girls’ need for attention and safety in a time when so much of their lives is dictated by others. That empathy, however, quickly fades as the girls orchestrate a charade that famously results in the death of innocent people.
Teenage girls will definitely identify with the cliques and struggles for power within the group. Likewise the connections between the girls’ actions in the story and the rumor mills and cyber-bullying of today are strong. An author’s note provides insight into theories about why the real girls chose to perpetuate the lie. Facts about the victims and perpetrators add to the stark realization of how quickly and easily a seemingly innocent falsehood can quickly spiral out of control.
Fictionalized accounts of real events provide the perfect opportunity for children to compare what’s “real” with what’s “made-up.” Teens may want to research one of the many nonfiction works about this American tragedy. Likewise, comparing the story with Miller’s play, THE CRUCIBLE may lead to readers developing their own theatrical production or readers’ theater script.
Other books for teens about the Salem witch trials:
Miller, Arthur. THE CRUCIBLE. ISBN 9780142437339
Rinaldi, Ann. A BREAK WITH CHARITY: A STORY OF THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS. ISBN 9780785735489
By Rebecca S. McKee