‘Curse of Cairn Castle’ and ‘The Witch’s Midden’

By TINKY WEISBLAT

For the Recorder

Published: 07-21-2023 12:17 PM

Haley’s Publishing recently released two fun, colorful books for young people by the imaginative author and illustrator Elizabeth Lindgren of Orange.

The first, “Curse of Cairn Castle,” follows the adventures of Beetle Beane as she battles for the environment and against evil in rural Maine.

“Curse” is the third volume in the Sooty Wick series, although it can be read by youngsters who have not read the other two books. Beetle spends her summers (she is 13 at the time in which this book is set) as a combination guest and intern of Murtha Bellwether at the Sooty Wick Inn.

Murtha is teaching Beetle to respect nature and fight polluters. As the new book opens, Beetle arrives for the summer only to find that Murtha has taken on a job at Cairn Castle. This brand-new local attraction is a reproduction of a medieval castle retooled as a hotel.

Murtha has her suspicions about the hotel and its mysterious proprietor. She wonders whether the hotel is linked to missing patches of fur from local deer… and whether danger and evil may lurk among the elderly bricks of Cairn Castle.

Beetle joins forces with her friend, Noonan, and with Murtha’s idiosyncratic cat, Jezebel, to help solve the mystery of the castle. They soon realize that the hotel and its owner are a threat not just to the local environment but perhaps to the entire planet.

Like its predecessors, “Curse of Cairn Castle” is a well constructed yarn with humor and heart. Beetle, Noonan, and Murtha are resourceful protagonists who are nevertheless very human. Lindgren’s sketches help bring the story to life.

“Cairn Castle” is aimed at tweens and teenagers.

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Lindgren’s other new book, “The Witch’s Midden,” was written for children in the lower elementary school grades.

In this picture book, which features watercolors by the author, a witch’s garbage heap (midden) accidentally gets splashed with a pail of old spell water. The water has a startling effect on a squash bug that has perched on the midden to take a nap.

The bug starts growing... and growing. Soon it is enormous and has pretty much decimated all the pumpkins in town. (“The Witch’s Midden” is a Halloween story.)

Of course, this charming little book has a happy ending. The huge bug gets a chance to entertain local trick-or-treaters before the spell wears off and it returns to its normal size... and to the midden.

“Curse of Cairn Castle” and “The Witch’s Midden” are available at the Petersham Country Store, at Haley’s, and online.

Lindgren will also be selling the books at Orange Third Thursdays, Warwick Old Home Days, the annual North Orange Church Fair on August 17, and the Universalist Church of Orange Fair on November 25.

Tinky Weisblat is an award-winning author and singer. Her most recent book is “Pot Luck: Random Acts of Cooking.” Visit her website, TinkyCooks.com.

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