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  • Writer's pictureJake Evanoff

Book Review: Ghosts Are People Too

With Star Ship Reviews, our goal is to bring attention to some of the wonderful independent authors and illustrators out there. For this week's entry, we'll be looking at "Ghosts Are People Too" Written and Illustrated by J. M. Desantis.

Ghosts Are People Too J. M. DeSantis

The Artist:

J. M. DeSantis was born Jeffrey Michael DeSantis in New Jersey, USA. He is a writer and artist (Write-ist™) and the creator of the dark fantasy comic series, Chadhiyana™. Chiefly working in the genres of fantasy, horror, and humour, JMD has authored a number of short stories, books, comics, and artworks. His work has appeared in print, digital publications, and even film around the world.

The Story:

"We're all afraid of ghosts; there's no shame in that. They show up out of nowhere and scare us half to death. They moan and groan and take away our breath. They float around our houses and won't go away. They look positively frightful with all their decay!

But have you ever wondered what it's like for them? After all, ghosts were once living people, like you and I. If they were alive still, what do you think they'd do? Would you still find them so frightening? Maybe not. Maybe they wouldn't be so scary to you.

Ghosts Were Are People Too takes your child on an imaginative journey of acceptance and understanding from the perspective of asking questions about what ghosts would be like if they could still do all the things that people do...and perhaps help your child be a little less scared of ghosts in the process."

The Review:

I found 'Ghosts Are People Too' to be a really fun and unique read with the added touch of a nice rhyme scheme.

The first three pages depict various ghosts doing what they're known for best... Scaring people! But the narrative takes a quick turn when J. M. introduces the idea that ghosts used to be people just like us. They loved to do all of the things that we do like eating and playing and listening to music. As the story progresses, the illustrations begin to morph from traditional ghosts into full-blown apparitions of the people they once were, simply living their lives. Overall I think J. M. was able to capture a fresh take on traditional ghost stories and that Ghosts Are People Too could be a useful tool to help children see that ghosts don't have to be a scary thing!

The Mini Interview:

To wrap things up, we've asked J. M. to answer three quick questions for us!

What was your inspiration for the story?

Ghosts Are People Too came together in a strange sort of way. I remember writing a poem back when I was substitute teaching, and that was much shorter than that which wound up in the book. I don't often write poetry for publication (though I've had a few published), so I didn't think much of it in the moment, other than I liked it.

At some point I had the idea of turning it into a children's book, but as the poem was too short to turn into a book, I first had to figure out if I could expand upon the idea without adding filler and stretching it out. I just don't like the idea of trying to get more out of a work than it naturally has. Once I knew the idea was enough that I could get it to thirty-two pages, then I started illustrating the poem with the concept that the ghosts would get more "humanized" as the book went on. That part just came from the development, and was due in part because I couldn't decide on a consistent way to draw the ghosts. It just worked really well with the idea once that became more focused.

But you asked about inspiration. I guess I'm not really sure. The idea of "ghosts are people too" just popped into my mind one day seated in my car on a lunch break, and I took out some paper and wrote it out. It just developed from that.

What was your favorite book growing up?

That I can't remember a specific favourite book. I know as a very young child, it was the Berenstain Bears books and The Monster at the End of this Book. As I got older, I was heavily into the Goosebumps books by R. L. Stein. I know that I loved to read, but I developed this odd quirk of not reading in high school, for some reason. I gave it up, and couldn't seem to finish a book past chapter five. I didn't get back into reading until my senior year and then it stuck...again. It was, disparately, The Hobbit and Crime and Punishment that got me back into reading.

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring children’s authors?

Don't over think it. I had a few attempts at writing children's books before I had developed Ghosts Are People Too, and they were not very good. I focused far too much on the question of "what would children think is a good book?" But when I wrote Ghosts and when I illustrated it, I was just having fun. I didn't overthink it, and I find that kids are responsive to the book. I think if you're having fun--or whatever emotion you're trying to evoke in the work--and you keep things simple but not condescending, you'll do just fine.

The Links:

If you'd like to grab your own copy of the book, it can be purchased here:

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