My 5-Year-Old Asks Calef Brown Questions about The Ghostly Carousel

By Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books

As I mentioned in yesterday’s interview on the blog, my 5-year-old is a bit obsessed with Calef Brown’s new poetry collection, The Ghostly Carousel: Delightfully Frightful Poems.

One evening as I read the book to him, he kept interrupting with questions. I started jotting them down, and to my great delight, Calef was kind enough to provide answers! So please consider this your introduction to The Ghostly Carousel through the eyes of an inquisitive kid…
The Ghostly Carousel by Calef Brown cover

Are the little witches in the first poem using any flies for their potions?


Ghostly Carousel spread

Calef: As far as I know, these Coven Tots don’t use animal products of any kind in their basic cauldron training. No eye of newt yet. They use whatever fruit they can get, and other plant-based ingredients. They do however, sometimes add bits of hornet nests, which may make certain insects furious.

Do bug stings hurt witches? Hmmm. I’m curious.

Why does Joel want to get away from the zombie family reunion?

Ghostly Carousel spread

Calef: Joel is mainly fleeing his over-affectionate zombie aunts, who baby him, and who, last year, hugged him so hard they broke all his ribs. Being a zombie, it’s not like that mattered, or hurt at all, but still, it was ANNOYING.

Another reason is that these creepy aunts think he still loves the same old leech and slug treats that he enjoyed as a toddler. They can’t seem to understand that his palette has become much more sophisticated and he now appreciates all sorts of sweet and savory brain foods.

Why does the Creeping Crud have millions and millions of eyeballs?

Ghostly Carousel spread

Calef: The dreaded flood of toxic sludge known as the Creeping Crud has, over thousands of years, developed capabilities of sight so it can gleefully witness the horror of all who are unlucky enough to be exposed to its horrid unmentionable stench that has been known to wrench noses sideways, and doesn’t subside for five days.

What are the cats up to in this book?

Calef: In this book, cats aren’t featured players, they don’t seek the limelight, but rather hang in the background. Waiting for the right moment to snatch a juicy rat marinating on the zombie buffet table. Prowling the village of Glumm from dusk till dawn, while steering clear of the bucolic swamp, the ritzy cave-lofts, and the fun-filled dungeons. Perhaps a little dancing around a tub of non-magic gazpacho.

Do corpses really wiggle?

Ghostly Carousel page

Calef: According to Fritz the mortician, who is in the right position to know this, (no novice, he)  a corpse may wiggle a bit, even wriggle, twitch, and get this: he says that one especially talkative cadaver wouldn’t stop chatting and spewing palaver!

“Give it a rest! “ said Fritz quite sternly. “And I mean eternally!”

Are the fleas inside the crust of Hank’s Insect Pie dead?

Ghostly Carousel page

Calef: Yes, the fleas in Hank’s favorite dessert, are definitely deceased, but they do get to live happy free-range lives on young, healthy canine hosts before being selected and stuffed with delicious artisan cheese and baked in the pie crust.

Why is the boy in “Silhouettes” so scared?

Ghostly Carousel page

Calef: This poem comes from my own experience. I used to get very scared at night thinking that I saw things in the dark that turned out to be ordinary objects in my room. My imagination would take over and I would be sure something or someone was lurking in the corner.

What did Dr. Jekyll do after carving that evil pumpkin?

Ghostly Carousel spread

Calef: Well, after he had taken some time to de-Hyde-rate, I think he sat down and enjoyed a nice big slice of pumpkin pie, as a sort of payback. And I imagine he put this nefarious lantern out on his front porch, where it could terrify the mail carrier and various passers-by, and be chewed upon by squirrels.

Learn more about The Ghostly Carousel

Thank you, Calef, for your thoughtful, occasionally icky answers!

The Ghostly Carousel has drawn rave reviews from more reviewers than my 5-year-old, in case you need more convincing to pick up a copy:

  • “A highly recommended purchase for Brown fans and those who relish poems that go bump in the night.”—School Library Journal
  • “[A]n imaginative exercise perfect for the Halloween season.”—The Horn Book Magazine 
  • “[E]mboldens young readers to find fun in things that go bump in the night.”—Kirkus Reviews
  • “[W]ickedly humorous and gently eerie.”—Publishers Weekly

The Ghostly Carousel is available through lernerbooks.comBarnes & NobleAmazonIndieBound, and all major distributors.

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