Aurora -- Eric VanRaepenbusch of Aurora came up with his own series of books and e-books about three ghost friends in a most unexpected way.
"It really stemmed last year from my son Jenkin [now 3], who is slightly obsessed with Halloween," he said. "One day, I was at his preschool. I was carrying all my supplies plus my son, and I accidentally dropped my supplies all over the floor.
"My son wanted me to draw some ghosts while we were there on the floor. I picked up some markers and drew some colored ghosts on pieces of paper. I had only drawn them with pencils before. So my first book was about ghosts learning about colors.
"He'd want me to draw happy ghosts," he added. "I'm a big children's book fan. So with that in the back of my mind, I came up with some ghosts and stories for them."
In addition to his book "Three Ghost Friends: Learn About Colors," his other three books deal with three ghost friends learning about the ABCs, shapes and opposites.
"The ghosts do really funny things in my illustrations," he said. "In my 'shapes' book, the ghosts play hide-and-seek and turn into different shapes like 'circle' ghosts."
His books and e-books are intended for children ages 2 to 5. All are available at Amazon.com and the iBookstore.
VanRaepenbusch, who previously taught for five years in the Akron Coventry schools, became a stay-at-home dad in the spring of 2005. His wife, Lisa, is an intervention specialist for grades 1 to 2 at Craddock School in Aurora after previously teaching at Harmon School.
The family has four children -- Jenna, 8, a third-grader at Leighton School; Mason, 6, a kindergartner at Miller; Jenkin, 3, a preschooler at Miller; and Kate, 18 months.
VanRaepenbusch shares plenty of children's activity ideas on his website -- www.threeghostfriends.com. Although he said his full-time job is taking care of his two youngest children, his activities with his e-book series and blog help fill up his day, and he believes they will do the same for other parents.
"YOU NEED stuff to get through the day," he said. "You need activities, even if it's for a half-hour, to break up the day. I try to include as many activities as I can in my blog like ghost crafts and worksheets."
An example is his light bulb ghosts. "I was going to throw away a light bulb last summer, but I said to myself, 'It looks like a ghost to me,'" he said.
So he wrote out instructions on his blog in which parents can take a paper cup, trim it so it isn't as tall and tape it to a light bulb, where a face can be drawn with a marker.
VanRaepenbusch also has a website blog titled "Happy birthday author" in which he tries to create memorable reading experiences by celebrating children's author/illustrator birthdays. He said the blog encourages families to read together, something he loves to do with his family.
His website -- www.happybirthdayauthor.com -- also shares various children's activities.
"One night, I read to my son Mason a book called 'I Stink,' by Kate McMullan, about a garbage truck," he said. "Mason had such a good time that we made a cake that looked like a character from the book. The idea for the blog took off from there."
He said he also shares ideas on Pinterest.
VanRaepenbusch is scheduled to appear Oct. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Yogurt Plus, 19328 Detroit Road, Rocky River. His books will be available, and there will be a Halloween party where every youngster wearing a costume will get free yogurt. Children can participate in other activities, too.
"All of this grew into more than I expected," he said. "My goal was to sell 100 books and I've done that, so it's been a success for me."
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC