As part of my eldest daughter’s “13th birthday in Boston” celebration it was her decision how to spend the morning before our drive home. Possible options included a trip to the Museum of Science, Boston for the opening day of the “Science of Pixar” exhibit or visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, a locale from our favorite Boston based middle-reader book Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne.
In the end it was the irrepressible draw of Salem that determined how we would spend our final hours. The allure of history and witchcraft is powerful, and the heart of our visit was really to just get the feel of the place. Salem is peppered with hokey museums and theme driven gift shops, but actually being present in a location full of witchcraft lore totally overpowered the touristy vibe. We took the obligatory, if outdated, tour of the Salem Witch Museum, had a delicious chowder lunch, and picked up dessert at the Salem Ice-Screamery. All-in-all it was a worthwhile diversion and time well spent, especially the time browsing the gift shop bookshelves for witchy reads! This Halloween, if you can’t be in Salem, pick up one of these fun, fantasy or non-fiction books to discover a new view on witches and witchcraft.
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson – A little witch gets some help from some special animal friends but now they all want a ride on her broom….will there be room for everyone? (PB)
Witches by Cheryl Christian – Adorable rhymes bring to life this story of Halloween preparations for a group of little witches. (PB)
Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett – This 60th anniversary edition brings the story of the very reluctant little witch, Minx, to a whole new generation. Although it sounds fun to be the daughter of a witch, Minx just wants to be a normal girl. She takes it upon herself to attend the local school and her adventures are heartwarming and fun. (ER-2)
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy – Mildred Hubble is the ready for her first year at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches, but things aren’t as easy as she thought they’d be and, just when it can’t get much worse, it seems she’s made Ethel, the favorite student, her sworn enemy. A funny, fun precursor for witch crazy readers not quite ready to tackle Harry Potter. (ER-2)
The Witches by Roald Dahl – The enduring tales Grandmamma tells are about witches, real witches, that look just like regular people. But they hate children, and the warning stories are never more important than when coming face to face with the Grand High Witch! A true classic tale as only Dahl can tell it! (MR-4)
Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer – This award-winning retelling of the hysteria that shook Salem in 1692, told in engaging text and highlighted by riveting illustrations. (MR -5/6)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare – In 1687, Kit is uprooted from her home and thrust into a new life in colonial Connecticut. As she struggles to find her way in these new harsh surroundings she finds happiness a new friendship with Hannah Tupper, but Hannah is believed to be a witch. Can Kit hold true to her heart, and what she knows is right? Or will duty sway her in these difficult times? 1959 Newbery Award Winner (MR – 6)
The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts by Arthur Miller – Not just for High School English classes anymore, this classic tale of mass hysteria, based on actual events of the Salem Witch Trials, is fascinating as an historical observation. Take it to another level – when placed in context of the political climate during its writing, the vilifying McCarthy era, it is a social commentary on the power of group mentality. (YA)
Check out some spooky witchy reads from Mom’s Bookshelf.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe – Connie Goodwin is spending the summer cleaning the dilapidated old house in Salem, left to her family by her grandmother, and working on her doctoral proposal. While cleaning she comes across a lead on original historic source that could change her academic work, her relationship with her advisor and her understanding of her family’s history. (MBS)
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – After a lifetime suppressing her abilities as a witch in favor of academic research, Diana Bishop discovers an ancient manuscript that pushes her to acknowledge her gifts, embrace and challenge the relationships between creatures, and redefine her beliefs. The story continues in Shadow of Night and concludes in The Book of Life. (MBS)
The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston – Centuries ago Bess watched her mother hang as a witch, and her desire to escape the same fate led her to Gideon, who awakened power in her – but who has chased her across the centuries to exact payment for saving her life. Now, in the 21st century, Bess has discovered a young protege. In sharing her knowledge Bess has awakened feelings she’s kept hidden, but also led Gideon back to claim her soul. Continue the story of Bess and Gideon in the upcoming sequel The Return of the Witch (publication date 3/8/16) or discover more “witch” stories by Paula Brackston: The Midnight Witch, The Winter Witch, and The Silver Witch. (MBS)