What would you say to a ghost if you happened to meet one? Perhaps, “how long have you lived here?” suggests a ghost hunter in a new children’s book aimed at helping kids explore the unknown.
“Ghost Hunter’s Handbook: Supernatural Explorations for Kids,” by Liza Gardner Walsh of Camden, is a fun look at real-life ghost hunting for all the curious, skeptical and interested kids out there.
Unlike Walsh’s previous nonfiction kids books like “Fairy Houses All Year,” “Ghost Hunter’s Handbook” has more history, information and background because, she said, the topic really demanded it. From definitions of ghost-related words and topics, to case studies of ghost hunts to profiles of popular haunted spots, the book takes kids on a journey through the ins and outs of ghost hunting.
“I wanted it to be a combination of activities and information,” Walsh said.
But, like her other books, it’s also activity-driven, with sections detailing tools of the ghost hunting trade, worksheets to track haunted happenings and a whole chapter on how to tell a good, spooky ghost story.
That chapter is Walsh’s favorite.
This isn’t Walsh’s first foray into the supernatural. Walsh’s earlier book, “Haunted Fort,” inspired the new children’s book.
“It’s funny, a few years ago I wrote the Fort Knox book, so when I was giving school visit talks, I had pictures about the research I had done,” Walsh explained. Third- and fourth-graders were particularly interested in the slides of ghost hunters and other related material from “Haunted Fort Knox.”
She later told her editor about the experience. “This age group is really interested in ghosts,” Walsh said.
“I really had fun with it,” Walsh said.
For Walsh, though, the interest in hauntings and ghosts goes back much further than her Fort Knox book. She said that the home she grew up in, a former doctor’s office where her family believed bodies were stored in the basement as a makeshift morgue, was haunted.
“Looking back, definitely [the house was haunted]. I felt a lot of ghosts and there were a lot of creepy noises,” Walsh said. “The basement was especially creepy.”
Living in a town full of old houses and ancient gravestones sparked even more interest for Walsh as a youngster. “My friends and I, we loved to go to the cemetery and tell spooky stories,” she said.
“It’s been fun to just watch my kids, too — there’s a real fascination with what they can’t see at a certain age. I think they are wrestling with some big issues from age 7 to 11,” Walsh said.
Walsh will be at the Bangor Book Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Bangor Public Library with a ghost hunter workshop called Ghostbusting for Kids at 1 p.m. There may even be a ghost hunt in the library, Walsh said.
This years’ book fest includes three events on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15, including Walsh’s. On Friday at 7 p.m., poets Leonore Hildebrandt, Christian Barter, Kathleen Ellis and Martin Steingesser will hold a reading, followed by a performance of the late Don Stratton’s “On Immortality” involving narration with singing and a jazz quintet. At 3 p.m. on Saturday, there will also be a panel discussion of authors on nonfiction and history.
Walsh will also be at Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, for a ghost story writing workshop.
“Ghost Hunter’s Handbook,” which was just released on Oct. 1, is available where children’s books are sold.