Barry Cunningham Discusses Ghosthunters

Book Focus for August 2006

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5

I always thought it would be a lot of fun hunting ghosts - but until I started working with Cornelia Funke on her GHOSTHUNTERS series, I didn't realize it would be gooey, messy, and sticky, too! The first book, Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost!, features gummy green slime, and by the fourth, Tom and the team are knee-deep in deadly mud!

At the Chicken House, the story comes first, but we're always aiming to make the book exciting to look at, too. For the GHOSTHUNTERS series, designer Leyah Jensen, under the direction of Elizabeth Parisi, Executive Art Director Hardcover, came up with an extra-special touch when she adapted Cornelia's original illustrations for Hugo the Averagely Spooky Ghost into a special flip-book sequence. From random digital art files, Leyah grouped together all the different line drawings of Hugo. She printed them, and then she actually cut them out with scissors, numbered all the different poses, and taped them into a 29-step flight pattern!

That pattern now proceeds along the bottom right-hand corner of the pages, and when you flip them with your thumb, the tiny little Hugo flies a goofy, ghostly dance right through the book! As readers will discover, Hugo can be a bit of a naughty chap at times-he likes to play tricks on unsuspecting humans!-and this dance perfectly captures his impish spirit.

Of course there is real heart and soul to the GHOSTHUNTERS stories, too, as you would expect from the author of INKHEART, THE THIEF LORD, and DRAGON RIDER. The characters are fully formed and show real understanding of each other, building up individual confidence and strengths, with a wonderful relationship between young Tom, the apprentice ghosthunter, and Hetty, the eccentric "woman of a certain age" who is his mentor. The ghost Hugo completes the team - how's that for inclusiveness!

There are four titles in the first batch of GHOSTHUNTERS, and we hope more will come soon from the busy Cornelia Funke!

Barry CunninghamĀ 
Publisher and Managing Director
The Chicken House

  • Subjects:
    Visual Arts
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