New Children's Series of Books: Ghost Gang by James ParkinJames Parkin is a self-published children's author who has written a series of books for 8-12 year olds about the "Ghost Gang". We were asked by the author to review the first book in the series.
The Ghost Gang are a group of friendly young ghosts who reside in the old abandoned West Tower at Claire Rock Primary. During the day they float around, braintalk with each other and look out for any children who are unhappy. At nighttime they can enter a child's dream and try to help them with any problems they have.
The "New Ghost" tells the story of Winston, a young boy who drowned following an argument with his family on a day out at the park. On becoming a ghost, he wants to become the sixth member of the gang, but his quick temper and habit of calling others cruel names gets him into trouble. Will he sort out his problems and be accepted by the others?
Both Kizzy and I read this book so we could give both an adult's and the target audience's perspective.
Kizzy was actually slightly uncomfortable by the premise of the story. At first she thought it was "a little bit distressing" having a story about dead children, however, she did like the idea of the ghost children helping other children with their problems in their dreams and enjoyed the book. Winston's story was actually quite heartbreaking and from the opening line "'It was about half past three on a Sunday afternoon when my life as a child ended and my life as a ghost began" you feel sympathy for the main character. Death is not something generally written about so graphically in a children's book, so I think it may take a little getting used to. I couldn't help but think about all the broken families left devastated by the death of the children who are now in the Ghost Gang.
The settings, situations, dialogue and characters are all really familiar and children will relate to them. The only difference is that the children in the gang are dead. They are like a Deceased Famous Five on a mission to help other kids with their day to day problems involving friendship and family. There are some important life lessons within the pages of the book and the overall message of finding solutions to problems is a good one. The use of the 'ghosts' in such familiar settings is an unusual twist. I could almost imagine this as a CBBC series!
You can read a short story and purchase the first three books on Kindle and paperback over at the website bigredsock.com.