What three words best describe The Cape Cod Witch Series?
Natural-world magical adventures (Maybe that’s three-and-a-half words …)
Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, why they should give this series a try?
This is quote from a professional reviewer of the first ElsBeth book:
“The Cape Cod Witch and the Pirate’s Treasure got such rave reviews from my two nephews … I felt like I had to pass it on: What makes their recommendations so remarkable is that they’re sort of reluctant readers, and hey, anytime two boys jump up and down (literally) and implore me to read something, I listen — my nephew said all of the kids in his third grade class love this book, bar none.” –Ali Decker, Ypulse Book Editor
In ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties, what is your:
Favorite chapter? “Beasties, Banshees, and Other Creatures of the Night”
Favorite page? The first page, “The Call”
Favorite illustration? “The Griffin and Black Roses of Malfleur Manor”
Flip to a random page and give us a 1-3 sentence teaser: “ElsBeth was right behind Frankie when they stepped off the Sea Charmer — and a sharp shriek again tore the still air. Frankie jumped straight up and came down in his most aggressive boxing stance. From fear to fierce in less than a second.”
What inspired your Cape Cod Witch Series? Were you influenced by any particular witch myths/lore, or pop cultural elements (other books/movies/shows)?
Oddly, maybe, Huckleberry Finn. I wanted to write an adventure story in the vein of the classics, and something for both boys and girls. But with magical elements that presented new realties, and an environmental theme because of my passion and respect for the natural world and its magical kinship — influenced, no doubt, by my education and degree in Environmental Science.
Can you tell us a bit about your heroine ElsBeth? What makes her special or different from other middle-grade heroines?
Though ElsBeth’s skills are still developing, she has a clear calling to protect the natural world, using the best she knows of science and magic (not so very different from each other, after all).
How important are the settings in each of the three books The Cape Cod Witch Series?
Book I is set on the Cape, in and near ElsBeth’s seaside home, and she and her friends have to face off against dangerous outsiders and a notorious pirate to restore the balance of past and present, good and evil.
In Book II ElsBeth and her friends go on a field trip to the Boston Freedom Trail. They get caught up with a freedom-fighting pirate ghost in the rescue attempt of a kidnapped student, and travel across the waters to Nantucket Island, in a real-life lesson in fighting for freedom and something bigger than themselves.
In Book III ElsBeth is called across the sea to the Scottish Highlands by three ancient ghosts of her clan when their ancestral lands are threatened. And she has to begin in earnest her chosen calling to protect the natural world — while unearthing older, odder family mysteries than she could ever dream.
In other words, the settings are actually important characters, themselves, in the stories.
Throughout the three books, ElsBeth has obviously had some interesting adventures and met some intriguing people. Do you have a favorite thing she’s done and/or favorite person she’s met?
Meeting ghosts, and finding they’re not so different from the rest of us — they have problems, too, after all. Durst, the ancient warrior ghost in ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties, is my current favorite. He’s a little difficult to get along with, but others find he’s well worth getting to know.
Can you give us any tidbits about what’s to come for ElsBeth in the next book?
ElsBeth ventures to the Wild West and gets involved with some Native American spirits who are troubled by what’s happened to their lands. ElsBeth is growing up even more, and she learns she can’t make things right all on her own, even if she is a witch.
Answer the following:
I’m really awesome at…Imagining things!
I’m really embarrassed to admit that…I fell down eight times cross-country skiing the other day. (Don’t tell my brother, a former captain of the Dartmouth ski team.)
The last great book I read was…Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn.
If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by your Cape Cod Witch Series, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
Funny you should ask! It would be called Double-Double Chocolate Chip Fairy-Cream Cupcakes — and we included the recipe for this at the end of Book II and also in The Little Cape Cod Witch: The Secret Recipes of Hannah Goodspell, a cookbook for young folks we published as part of the series (and which won First Prize in the Cookbook category in the 2012 New England Book Festival). It looks (and tastes) like a dark chocolate cupcake with swirls of vanilla frosting.
About the Author:
In the ElsBeth series, J Bean Palmer calls upon her family’s long history in New England including a Revolutionary “Green Mountain Boy,” Cape Cod cranberry farmers and artists, and an oft-told family legend that as her grandmother’s ancestors stepped off the Mayflower, her grandfather’s relatives were there to greet them. With a degree in Environmental Science (summa cum laude, University of Maine), the author’s ElsBeth stories reflect a passion and respect for the natural world and its magical kinship. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the National League of American Pen Women and the Cape Cod Cultural Center, and a former board member of the Cape Cod Writers Center.
About the Book: Book III in the popular award winning Cape Cod Witch Series.
When their wild and free ancestral lands are threatened, three ancient ghosts need one of their clan from the living world. They call the Thistle heir from across the sea to the old country.
Almost-ten-year-old ElsBeth Amelia Thistle, the youngest witch on Cape Cod, has her own need to unearth the family mysteries and to begin her chosen calling to protect the natural world.
ElsBeth uses the best she knows of science and magic (not so very different from each other, after all). But even with help from a curious cast of magical creatures she befriends, and her spirited classmates who’ve been swept along (including the beautiful feisty fashionista Veronica, a Wampanoag chief-to-be Johnny, and Frankie, who wants to follow in the footsteps of his prize-fighting Uncle Vittorio), ElsBeth is in way over her magic level — and into older, odder mysteries than she could ever dream — in an adventure just above the surface of reality.
Includes twenty-two original, full-color illustrations.