Friday, June 10, 2011

Wicked girls : a novel of the Salem witch trials

Wicked girls : a novel of the Salem witch trials
by Hemphill, Stephanie

Horn Book (July/August, 2010)
"Sure as meat makes a pie, / the villagers be certain / that Satan is among them. / The brisk spoons of girls / ladle fear / into everyone's bowls." In this forceful verse novel, Hemphill (Your Own, Sylvia, rev. 3/07) gives voice to those who writhed, twitched, and shrieked their way to power during the Salem witch trials. Her plausible interpretation of events is a Puritan Mean Girls, with peer pressure and group dynamics driving the young accusers to maintain their histrionic charade, even after they realize their actions' fatal consequences. The poems shift among the perspectives of three girls-Ann Putnam, Mercy Lewis, and Margaret Walcott-and Hemphill succeeds in carving out distinct personalities and motivations for each. Chillingly, she shows how the girls manipulate-and are manipulated by-their elders. For instance, twelve-year-old Ann's vindictive mother not-so-subtly mentions names of villagers she dislikes to her daughter, suggesting they may be the witches tormenting her. And Ann soon follows her mother's example: "My mother will have to learn / to do as I wish, or perhaps / I shall call her a witch?" An author's note elaborates both on the history of the trials and on the theory, adopted by Hemphill, that the girls knew that the "witches" swinging from the gallows were innocent and the faces they saw in the mirror were guilty.
Reviews & Awards
Booklist starred 06/15/10
Publishers Weekly starred 07/05/10
Horn Book 07/01/10
School Library Journal starred 08/01/10
Kirkus Review 06/01/10
Voice of Youth Advocates (V.O.Y.A.) 10/01/10
Kirkus Review starred 06/01/10
Wilson's Senior High School 02/01/11

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