Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Salem Adventure - A Book Review

Our America... The Salem Adventure, by Susan Kilbride, is a historical fiction that focuses on the sad era of our history commonly known as "The Salem Witch Trials".

The Salem Adventure is the third book in the Our America... series. The first two books, with the reviews I wrote linked to each, are Our America... The Pilgrim Adventure and Our America... The King Philip's War Adventure.

Finn and Ginny are twins. They are currently living with their Aunt Martha and Uncle Peter, and they are home schooled! Uncle Peter is an inventor. One day, when Finn and Ginny's mom and dad were visiting Peter and Martha, they disappeared. They haven't been heard from since.

It turns out that Uncle Peter developed a device for time travel, and Mom and Dad apparently triggered the mechanism, thinking it was a television remote, and disappeared to another time and place in the family's history. Uncle Peter tried to find them, but failed. Finn and Ginny learned how the device works and have secretly been searching for Mom and Dad on their own, as well, whenever they can get away with it.

Whenever using the time travel device, Finn and Ginny have learned that they must hold hands during the time travel, or they get separated and land in the same time but in different locations. They always land in a time and place of someone they are related to, and by some twist of the device they arrive in proper attire, and their relatives recognize them, and they somehow suddenly fit into the timeline they are visiting. They can tell from the time travel device how long they have until they will be whisked back to their true timeline, and they must always make sure they are together with the time travel device at that time or they will get left there, like their mom and dad did. Not knowing how the device works, their mom and dad somehow got whisked to the past somewhere and do not have the time travel device with them to get them back to the present time.

In The Salem Adventure, Finn and Ginny have another opportunity to search for their parents when their aunt and uncle will both be away for the day. Ginny had heard someone gossiping about her parents at the store the day before, and was very motivated to search some more. Holding hands, they press the button on the remote, and after a quick trip through time and space they arrive in a snowy sometime and somewhere that they must figure out. They learn that they must stay with different families -- as if their parents had died and they had been taken in by different relatives. 

As it turns out, they are in Salem Massachusetts in the winter of 1691-1692. It doesn't take long for them to observe tensions in the community that lead to accusations of citizens that astonish both the twins. What is even more astonishing is that, despite the audacity of the accusations, that individuals in the community are practicing witches, the individuals in authority are taking the accusations seriously and executing individuals who are accused just on the basis of the testimony of a couple of girls.

I read this book out loud to my son, and he became engaged in the story line. He became really angry that those "stupid girls" were just acting, making false accusations, and even more that people were believing them. I explained that this actually happened at this time in our country's history, and that individuals were duped because of their superstitious. He still finds it hard to grasp.

I won't give away the story, because you want to read the book and enjoy the adventure yourself. Suffice it to say that the story ends with Finn and Ginny returning to the time they had left, but they still have not found their parents, so the Our America... series will continue as Finn and Ginny continue to search for their parents.

The Salem Adventure  is available as a paperback book from Amazon.com for $7.95, or in Kindle version for $4.95. The Salem Adventure comes with a free unit study guide that can be saved as a .pdf file onto your computer. (All of the Our America... series books come with the free unit study guide.) I did not use the guide, as my son is in 9th grade and already has a heavy school work load. We read the book for enjoyment as much as for education. Since he is getting older, I wasn't sure if we would read the next book in the series. I asked him if he wanted to read the next adventure, and his answer was an emphatic, "YES!"

We received Our America... The Revolutionary War Adventure in the mail a couple of days ago, so we will begin reading it shortly. You can watch for our review of the next adventure hopefully in about eight weeks. There is also another book already published, which is book five in the series: Our America... The Pioneer Adventure. I'm going to try to be diligent with reading and reviewing these books quickly, because their target audience is for students aged 10 to 13, so chances are my son might begin to lose interest. If I blast through them quickly enough I think he might stay interested for awhile.

Susan Kilbride, the author, home schools her children in a state that is currently buried in snow. (I'm not giving away much there -- half the country is currently buried in snow!) She writes these adventures because she knows that the best way teach history is through stories that engage the students. She has been very kind to provide me with free copies of each book in exchange for my review. I have received no other compensation.

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