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  • Ratha Tep

Interview with Rebecca Green, HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH A GHOST

What do you do when you meet a ghost? If you follow the essential ghost care tips (provide favorite snacks like mud tarts and earwax truffles, for starters), you'll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you.


By Rebecca Green

Publisher: Tundra Books (September 5, 2017)

What inspired How to Make Friends With a Ghost? RG: "This book was inspired by my love of Autumn, but the idea came about when I was working on a different project, as many ideas do. I was walking my dog and thinking of illustrations for a client project - one of those illustrations was a girl and a ghost by the fire. I was considering what the girl might offer the ghost to drink. I thought of cider but then I realized I didn't know if ghosts even liked cider. At once a flurry of ideas popped into my head about a guide to ghost care - what do they like to eat, drink, or do for fun? I sat in my kitchen that day for hours dreaming and writing, and I'm so glad I did - it was so much fun bringing that all to life." What was it like to both write and illustrate your own book? I'm curious how that process compared with illustrating someone else's words? "Illustrating someone else's words, I've come to find, is much more challenging. I actually just finished my last illustrated book for another author and am currently only working on writing and illustrating my own. I feel there is much less pressure and struggle when it's my writing - the artwork falls into place and I don't overthink it."

Let's talk ghost stories! Besides your own, of course, do you have any other favorite picture books about ghosts? "I'd definitely like to get my hands on Oliver Jeffers's new book, There's a Ghost in this House. One that I've read and loved is Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson, and one of my favorite childhood ghost books was Clifford's Halloween by Norman Bridwell."

You have such a distinctive visual style. Who are some other illustrators you admire? "Thank you! My work has changed a lot over my career so it's hard for me, even, to understand my own style. That said, I love the work of Isabelle Arsenault, Andrew Wyeth, and Roger Duvoisin. Recently I've been inspired by Jiří Trnka, Zbigniew Rychlicki, 100% Orange, and Miroco Machiko."

What was your favorite picture book as a child? "One of my favorites was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz. I can't tell you how many times I checked it out at the library. I felt like it was one of the few books where I saw a character just going through a crap day! I guess I just felt like it resonated."

What contemporary picture books do you think will be the new classics of the future? "Hopefully the one I'm currently writing. I kid! I don't know, I'm actually not the most well versed in contemporary picture books. It's a world I'm part of but I mostly stick to the art side, and to honing my craft."

What would be on your list of 100 best picture books of all time? "Rumpelstiltskin, retold and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky comes to mind. I remember being in awe of the illustrations as a child, like I was holding precious artwork in my hands. It's on my bookshelf today, too, and just last week I was admiring all the painstaking details the artist did. He painted that in oil over watercolor underpaintings. Who paints picture books in oil?! It's just so stunning."


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