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Ellen Harvey Showell finds inspiration in her West Virginia childhood for stories of ghosts and hidden worlds--of crooked rivers, dark woods and song. Some of her stories were inspired by a fiddle-playing son who took to the hills for adventure. Her writings for children include middle-grade novels, beginning chapter books, musical plays and a screenplay. Also, she co-authored a book for young people about women inventors, used as a teaching guide in elementary and middle schools. She lives in Springfield, Virginia, with her husband, John. For more information, please visit Ellen's website.

My Books

FROM INDIAN CORN TO OUTER SPACE--WOMEN INVENT IN AMERICAFrom Indian Corn to Outer Space: Women Invent in America
By Ellen H. Showell and Fred M.B. Amram
ISBN 0-942-389-107 Cobblestone publishing, Inc. $19.50

Nobel prize winning inventor Gertrude Elion said, "If we don't have curiosity, we don't have science." This book, with activity sections after each chapter, challenges boys and girls to become problem solvers -- to ask "What if," and to find solutions. It provides role models for girls and boys by showing the achievements and life stories of outstanding women inventors.

  • The story of women inventors in America from Colonial days to present time, showing how women's achievements grow as they gain access to science education and to jobs in technology.
  • Inspiring stories of women who overcame great odds to become outstanding inventors.
  • Contemporary women inventors tell their own stories, including engineers in the space program who are helping to make flight safer and to solve problems of life support in outer space.
  • Clear discussion of patents, trademarks, etc. with a mock patent application.
  • Creative exercises, fun activities and puzzles after each chapter.
  • Historic photographs, patent drawing and amusing sketches throughout the book.


The Ghost of Tillie Jean Cassaway

Middle grade novel. A tale of Appalachia, with dialect. Strong family theme. A brother and sister meet a girl in the woods with the name of a child long dead. If not a ghost, who is she? They each have scary adventures before learning the truth. Theme for children to look for: How is one person's life affected by those who have lived before? How can a certain environment contribute to a story? This book is available in on-line bookstores. To view it, go to and search the title. First published in 1978 by Four Winds Press, it is a winner of the South Carolina Children's Book Award.

Other books by the author not in print
May be available in your local library


The Trickster Ghost
(first chapter book) - An eight year old boy knows he is not the one taking other people's things in their house. It must be a ghost! With the help of his sister, he finally proves he is right.
(Contact the author for copies)


Our Mountain
(first chapter book) - As told to the author by Jimmy and Corey Allder. Two boys have real life adventures as they explore caves, haunted houses and river trails near their home.


Cecelia and the Blue Mountain Boy
(middle grade novel) - A young girl who loves music and dancing finds a magical place that fulfills her dreams--then loses it until she can find meaning in a riddle told her by an old woman. Not until her dreary home village is transformed does she re-discover Blue Mountain and her true love.



The Executioners
Is the death penalty just? This thought provoking play can help young adults consider this important national issue from all viewpoints. Audiences have found it "powerful," "moving." For more informations or for purchase of scripts and a video, contact the author. Has been performed by high school students as well as church groups.

Cecelia and the Blue Mountain Boy
A musical play based on the novel of the same name. Premiered in 1997 by the Guild Builders of the Actors Guild of Parkersburg, WV. Excellent for a large cast of children from third or fourth grade up. (See description of novel, above, for story.) Contact author for more information.

---A joyous examination of words, meaning and spelling.
What would happen to language if the letter "U" got turned upside down and refused to get up? What would "Q" do? And think how many important, interesting, and bad words couldn't be said! The Alphabet is shaken up in this musical play on words, but a bunch of syllables who think they're a word-- TWID-DEL-AX-A-DAF-FY-- come to the rescue. Parts for children include: "Curious," (a jester); a bunch of "Angry Words;" and such elders of the language as the comforting "Hope," and haughty "Authority." Suitable for a regular class or a theatre class, fourth grade and up. Excellent for collaboration between classroom and music teachers. Has been produced in Arlington, VA elementary schools. Music composed by music teacher Kora Lee Khambatta. Contact the author for more information.

The Ghost of Tillie Jean Cassaway (screenplay) Based on the novel of the same name. Contact author for more information.


Awards and Honors

Cecelia and the Blue Mountain Boy: A Parents' Choice Award for Literature; An NSTS Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies; The Ghost of Tillie Jean Cassaway: The South Carolina Children's Book Award, 1982; From Indian Corn to Outer Space, Women Invent in America: Books for the 21st Century Girls's List, Women's National Book Association

Member: The Authors Guild; The Women's National Book Association

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