WritersReviews: Little Spirit

Little Spirit written by A. J. Freer

Cover created by A. J. Freer

Published by A. J. Freer 2018

139 pages in paperback

 

kind-hearted adventure – full of incident and charm

 

Summary from publisher’s website

When refugee, Little Spirit, is separated from his family, like a ghost he hides in an ancient church. Penniless, he can’t get back on the bus that brought him to town, so he returns to the church to search for a lost treasure and claim the reward.

But this is very difficult when you can’t speak the language and your parents aren’t there to help, and you’re being followed by a dangerous man.

Luckily, Eliza arrives, offering friendship and a jam sandwich. Together, they must outwit the man and ensure Little Spirit finds the only treasure he really needs  . . . his family.

A reader’s perspective

The cover of Little Spirit has an appealing slightly gothic hint to it, together with gleams of light, which suits the story inside. A church features in both, there is peril and mystery but the glow of kindness is central. The sparkles rightly suggest more wonder and beauty than fear.

Clearly aimed at younger readers, Little Spirit features a classic adventure (looking for hidden treasure) complete with mysterious symbols and a persistent enemy. The brave young refugee certainly faces plenty of challenges. Without revealing spoilers, grown-ups giving this book as a present need not worry about upsetting children.

Little Spirit would suit capable young readers who like looking up the occasional tricky bit of vocabulary (such as curate, resplendent and adjacent) or who have considerate adults to help. It could equally well be read aloud as a serial: each of the twelve chapters is short.

Kind-hearted, full of incident and charm, Little Spirit would make a lovely little book to discuss.

Back cover : Mystery. Adventure. Friendship.

A writer and editor’s view

It is rare that I review a self-published book: I have stacks cliffs of conventionally published works waiting for their turn. Since this story promotes kindness to refugees and has been produced with the help of The Golden Egg Academy, I’ve made an exception.

Notably, this story comes in a length mainstream presses are unlikely to consider. Its shortness will appeal to many children. The brief chapters and well-spaced, large font are also suitable for those moving from early chapter books towards junior fiction and independent reading. Ideally, a young reader would still have adult support available when reading Little Spirit.

This is where self-publishing comes onto its own: providing an alternative outlet for stories to reach their readers when commercial pressures get in the way. It’s no easy route – and I was particularly interested to learn how A. J. made the artwork.

I created the cover by converting a photograph of our local church, the setting of the book, to a digital illustration through an app on my phone called clip2comic. I had to fiddle with the settings and colour palette to get the image I used. I then uploaded the ‘illustration’ and added everything else in Canva. No money, I had to do it myself. Although I spent a lot of time researching MG covers / fonts etc. and watching podcasts of top bookcover designers critiquing covers to get the hang of what would, hopefully, work for a children’s book cover.

And that’s just for the cover! Imagine how many other processes are involved if you do it all yourself. Hats off to all courageous and hard-working self-publishers like A J Freer.

I shall leave the last words to Poppy aged 7 – the sort of feedback every writer lives for:

The book was lovely and exciting, it made me want to read on. The characters had great personalities and when bad things happen there is hope. Keep going and send me every book you make.

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