Author Spotlight - Barbara Cantini

In the spirit of the season, we spoke with Barbara Cantini about her inspiration for Ghoulia, the zombie girl, and her undead family. Here is what she had to say:

Ghoulia (Mortina in the rest of the world) was inspired by a drawing I made in an old sketchbook from my school days when I studied animation in Florence. I've always had an inclination for creepy and gothic atmospheres, especially when the dark aesthetic is coupled with irony and nonsense. The inspiration for Ghoulia came from the things that I've always enjoyed reading and watching, such as The Addams Family, E.A. Poe, movies by Tim Burton, Murder by Death, and the beloved Edward Gorey (and much more...). My family origins were also a big inspiration. Like Ghoulia, I grew up in a large family and my grandparents lived with us. There was always a 100-year-old great uncle like Uncle Misfortune around! My grandma, like Auntie Departed, was harsh-looking but soft-hearted.
I'm happy that Ghoulia's stories help foster conversation about acceptance and diversity, but when I write and draw I do it mostly for the sheer pleasure of telling stories and being with my characters, without any educational intentions. I'm not a fan of books that are created for the purpose of teaching something at all costs, and I don't think kids love them either. Fundamentally, I really enjoy what I do: draw characters that animate the stories in my head, and bringing those characters to life so much that I think of them as family.

Learn more about Barbara Cantini and her books!

Barbara Cantini
Barbara Cantini (Photo Courtesy of




Ghoulia is a book full of charming characters and wonderful illustrations! It’s the endearing journey of a lonely girl desperate to find friends beyond her family's Crumbling Manor. Ghoulia comes up with a plan to go outside Crumbling Manor on Halloween. She hopes going out as her zombie self won’t scare away other children who are dressed as ghosts and witches. In the end, she finds acceptance and makes lots of new friends who call themselves the "Monster Society" and have moonlight dances in the garden at Crumbling Manor.

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Ghoulia and the Mysterious Visitor

Our favorite character Ghoulia is back and this time she has an unexpected visitor at Crumbling Manor, her cousin Gilbert. Find out where Auntie Departed vanished to and why friends all arrive with the same mysterious invitation. There are a lot of fun mysteries in this charming, colorful book.

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