Steinbeck's Ghost [NOOK Book]

Overview



It’s been two months since Travis’s family moved to a development so new that it seems totally unreal. His parents are working harder now, to pay for it all, and Travis is left to fend for himself.

There’s one place, though, where Travis can still connect with his old life: the Salinas library. Travis and his family used to go there together every Saturday, but now he bikes to it alone, re-reading his favorite books.

It’s only natural that ...

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Steinbeck's Ghost

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Overview



It’s been two months since Travis’s family moved to a development so new that it seems totally unreal. His parents are working harder now, to pay for it all, and Travis is left to fend for himself.

There’s one place, though, where Travis can still connect with his old life: the Salinas library. Travis and his family used to go there together every Saturday, but now he bikes to it alone, re-reading his favorite books.

It’s only natural that Travis likes the work of author John Steinbeck—after all, Salinas is Steinbeck’s hometown. But that can’t explain why Travis is suddenly seeing Steinbeck’s characters spring to life. There’s the homeless man in the alley behind the library, the line of figures at the top of a nearby ridge, the boy who writes by night in an attic bedroom. Travis has met them all before—as a reader. But why are they here now? And how?

As Travis struggles to solve this mystery, budget cuts threaten his library. And so, he embarks on a journey through Steinbeck’s beautiful California landscape, looking for a way to save his safe haven. It’s only then that he begins to sort out fact from fiction, discovering the many ways a story can come alive—and stumbling into a story Steinbeck might have started, and Travis needs to complete.

Here is a mystery that delves deeply into the ways that books take us, one at a time, out into the vast world.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In his middle-grade debut, Buzbee (The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop) pays eerie tribute to a great American author. A native of Salinas, Calif., Travis Williams is campaigning to save the public library (named after the town's most famous citizen, John Steinbeck) when he's unsettled by seeing a ghost in the attic window of Steinbeck's childhood house, hearing a vagrant spouting dialogue from The Red Pony and finding a cave that holds dark secrets about Steinbeck's history. As he joins forces with a classmate and a Steinbeck expert, Travis finds himself drawn into a mystery at least as exciting as those he's read about in books. Creating a brand of magical realism that is more thought provoking than scary, Buzbee resurrects Steinbeck characters and scenes to tell a story within a story. If events are strung together too tidily to allow for a happy ending, the story remains an intriguing introduction/companion to Steinbeck's works and imaginatively conveys the power of literature to transport people to another time and place. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

Gr 5-7

Travis, 13, is trying to adjust to his family's move from Salinas, CA, to a brand-new development. To him, his new home and neighborhood are like Camazotz, the planet from A Wrinkle in Time where everything is the same. His parents seem to work all the time to support their current lifestyle, leaving him on his own. An almost magnetic pull draws him back to his old neighborhood and his favorite place, the John Steinbeck Library, only to discover that it is in jeopardy of being closed. The focus of the novel changes as Travis becomes immersed in the campaign to save it. His friend, Hilario, becomes involved as well. The mysterious underpinnings of the story begin when Travis cycles by Steinbeck's house and sees a boy writing in the attic window. Steinbeck's stories haunt him, and he starts to see characters from them. The second half of the book is the most absorbing. When he, Hil, and an elderly author go into the hills of Corral de Tierra, they have magical experiences that bring them closer to Steinbeck's world. There are some convenient plot twists and stereotypical characters. The protagonist, however, is well drawn. This novel would have greatest appeal to readers familiar with Steinbeck's works.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

Kirkus Reviews
An avid reader, 13-year-old Travis becomes involved in local efforts to save the Salinas, Calif., public library from closing and discovers there's a fine line between reality and fiction-especially in the town John Steinbeck immortalized. Since moving from a small, comfy house in Oldtown Salinas to a sterile development, Travis's parents seem too preoccupied with work to pay attention to him. Lonely and unsettled, Travis returns to the Oldtown library and immediately feels reconnected to his former life. After checking out books by and about Steinbeck, Travis begins to see characters from the author's stories. With the library slated to close, Travis joins the fundraising and becomes "part of something huge," embarking on a personal as well as literary pilgrimage through Steinbeck country to uncover an untold story from the past. Heavy reliance on intertextual references to Steinbeck's work proves a bit daunting, but appropriate for the bibliophile protagonist who went "to the library looking for a book, but...found so much more." Magical realism with Steinbeck's ghost and a discerning young hero. (Fiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher
Northern California Independent Booksellers’ Association Children’s Book of the Year

California Library Association’s John and Patricia Beatty Award

Northern California Book Award Nominee

Smithsonian Notable Book

VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror of 2008

 

“The themes of valuing friendship, managing adults who have lost their priorities, and connecting people through stories will appeal to kids who have found their own magic in the library.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“The second half of the book is the most absorbing. . . . [The protagonist] is well drawn. This novel would have greatest appeal to readers familiar with Steinbeck’s works.”—School Library Journal

“The story remains an intriguing introduction/companion to Steinbeck’s works and imaginatively conveys the power of literature to transport people to another time and place.”—Publishers Weekly

“Buzbee’s love for literature and libraries is infectious and, for those similarly inclined, deeply satisfying.”—Booklist

“Magical realism with Steinbeck’s ghost and a discerning young hero.”—Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429918091
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
  • Publication date: 9/2/2008
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • File size: 308 KB

Meet the Author

Lewis Buzbee is a former bookseller and sales rep (for Chronicle Books), and the author of the acclaimed adult memoir, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, published by Graywolf Press in June 2006. A native Californian, he lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter. This is his first book for children.

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Read an Excerpt


Travis looked at the stack of books on his desk. These were his new life, his real life. A Wrinkle in Time led him to the library. Which led him to Corral de Tierra, which led him to The Pastures of Heaven, which led him to The Long Valley. And these books led him to the other mysteries that surrounded him--Gitano and the Watchers and Steinbeck's ghost--led him deeper into a world he never suspected. Books could do that to you. When you read, the world really did change. He understood this now. You saw parts of the world you never knew existed. Books were in the world; the world was in books.
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Customer Reviews

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