The best Halloween party in town is being held by Boo, Bat, and Pumpkin, an unusual trio who have put their talents on display with spooky decorations, ghoulish fare, and mystery costumes.
Will the three characters succeed in making new friends, or will the popular kids think they’ve been tricked out of a treat?
The children’s book “Boo, Bat, and Pumpkin Throw a Party,” written and illustrated by Ashley Lucas, explores acceptance and difference through three characters, each with distinct qualities that make them rather unpopular. Lucas said her experiences teaching children art helped shape the characters that came to life within the book.
“[Kids] love the characters…the party theme…the sweets.” – Ashley Lucas
“Children who are very quiet [often] get dismissed,” said Lucas, describing her inspiration for Boo, a ghost who is shy and doesn’t speak.
“There is always a poor child who has the big glasses on,” said Lucas to describe Bat, whom she added is probably her favorite character “because he is super cute.”
Lucas drew from her own personal experience as a child to create the character Pumpkin, who has sharp-looking teeth just like a jack-o-lantern.
“I had these crazy buckteeth when I was little. It took me years to get it under control,” said Lucas.
“Pumpkin is the artist.” Lucas noted. She said she was rather quirky as a child artist who didn’t dress or act like everyone else did.
A Halloween setting
“I loved everything about [Halloween],” said Lucas of her favorite holiday. “It is a…magical holiday.”
Lucas has memories of her mother decorating her childhood home for Halloween in Lancaster, Pa., a predilection she inherited. She’s found that the Halloween theme resonates with kids.
“[Kids] love the characters…the party theme…the sweets.”
For Lucas, parties represented a different avenue of expression for the main characters, Boo, Bat and Pumpkin – a way to become other people for awhile.
Whimsical photo illustrations
Lucas had the idea for the characters years ago. She sketched designs, cut them out, and photographed the illustrations against a textured image backdrop. The fun, cute line drawings pop against a textured city building background.
“I wanted it to be like you were walking through a haunted house,” said Lucas.
She walked through alleyways and streets in downtown Jersey City to capture that feeling and snapped photos of stone structures such as the Embankment. Twenty-nine-year-old Lucas moved to Jersey City five years ago after time spent in New York.
She said Jersey City provided a supportive community for her and her work.
“Because it is a smaller community than New York City, it has been awesome for me to make connections and get more shows,” said Lucas. “It’s pretty nurturing. People here are not that judgmental.”
Following a dream
“I just dreamt, ‘One day I will just do art’,” she said. “It has taken a while so it is worth it.”
Lucas grew up surrounded by art. Her parents both studied fine arts. She began writing at around 5 years of age.
“When I was 13 I wrote a story about a little pea pod named Mr. Pod…“The Adventures of Mr. Pod.”
Lucas said it was the first time she had fleshed out a story.
She sent out many manuscripts for “Boo, Bat, and Pumpkin Throw a Party” before she finally chose to self-publish in 2010 via blurb.com. Shortly thereafter, Sunbury Press picked up the book.
Since the story’s release in February 2011, Sunbury Press has also published Ashley’s first coloring book, called “I Love NY Food.”
Lucas is currently working on a second coloring book about vegetarian food. She encourages all individuals interested in writing their own children’s book to “just do it.”
Next steps for the author
Lucas is on tour to promote the book throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She plans to be at the Lana Santorelli Gallery, 628 Washington St., Hoboken on Oct. 25 at 3:30 p.m.
Lucas is a Jersey City Etsy Team Member, an Indie Debut Author 2011, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She received her BFA from Tisch School of the Arts in Film and Television in 2004.
“Boo, Bat, and Pumpkin’s Throw a Party” is published by Sunbury Press in Camp Hill, Pa. Copies are available online for $9.99 at: www.sunburypress.com/boo.html or on Amazon.com. The author’s first coloring book, “I Love NY Food,” is also available.
Lucas is also the founder and chief creator at Lady Lucas, an art brand. For more information about the author, visit: www.ladylucas.com.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.