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on November 22, 2008
Steinbeck's Ghost is an amazing combinaion of beautiful writing that is fun to read. As an adult, it made me want to go back to Steinbeck, re-read old favorites and read the ones I've missed. It is a book for many ages, but I think it would be ideal for middle-schoolers/early teens who may have read their first Steinbeck and could relate well with the central character, a boy navigating the teen years, trying to figure out how to deal with his changing relationship with his parents, the role of mentors in his life, and just finding his own way in the world, all through solving a mystery and saving a library. Wow, truly a must read.
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I'm an adult. Yep. Still, I love to read children's books and this one is terrific!

The plot revolves around Travis's love of the library, and some unexplainable apparitions. Filled with kid-talk and adventure, and accented with the history of the Monterey Peninsula and the Salinas area,this is one fun adventure book.

Well done, Mr. Buzbee!
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on October 16, 2008
I am a great Harry Potter fan and I am picky about my books and this one shot through the roof of my expectations. Travis is someone I can really relate to because he loves books and wants to save a Library (which is awesome). I wanted to go to Salinas right away after I read the book and see Steinbeck's house. I had read a Wrinkle in Time (a great book) and want to read some of the other books mentioned. One of my favorite characters was Oster because he was a writer also and he helped Travis along the way. I loved the book and hope it turns into a series.
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VINE VOICEon February 23, 2009
In this book, a teenager's world gets flipped upside down when suddenly the works of John Steinbeck come to life. Travis has moved to a new place. He doesn't really like all the new changes in his life, such as his parent's working later and his new house. Travis travels back to a place he loves, the library. He learns that the library will be closing soon if they don't collect enough money. He joins the library's committee to save Steinbeck's library. As he volunteers a mystery unfolds, which him and his friends, both new and old, try to solve it. This book makes references to many of Steinbeck's works and makes for a good read after reading his classic novels.
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on November 9, 2009
Can the unfinished business a famous writer takes to his grave bring his fictional characters to life? This is the case in Steinbeck's Ghost, a mystery that unravels bit by bit as characters from John Steinbeck's stories leave a trail of clues for 13-year-old Travis Williams to solve.

In Steinbeck's Ghost, author Lewis Buzbee captures that feel of how an author can send you to another world. It doesn't take long for a reader to enter Travis's world -- a move to a new subdivision, upwardly mobile parents who are devoured by their new jobs, his own nostalgia for the old neighborhood -- and be drawn into the mystery that confronts him. Why does Travis see the ghost of young Steinbeck in an attic window? Who is the homeless man in the alley? Why do The Watchers keep appearing on the hills behind Travis's subdivision, and what do they want from him?

A subplot that involves budget cuts threatening to close the library reminds a reader all over again of the special door to other worlds only a library can offer. Eventually this book is a cluster of journeys: a journey through Steinbeck's California (Salinas, Monterrey, The Gabilan and Santa Lucia Mountains); a journey through books and the continuing enjoyment they provide; and Travis's journey as he resolves his own family concerns while resolving a troubled ghost's regrets.
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on October 9, 2008
There was nothing about this book I did not like. It's a book encouraging young kids to read books. And unlike some books that mention other books, this one does not leave you feeling left out if you have not read the books mentioned. It describes the books, the feel of them and the basics of the story. It made me want to read the books mentioned.
The story of the book is done differently then I have read before - characters from Steinbeck's novels really do feel as if they come to life in it, I could believe they're real. The book isn't scary, maybe a little creepy, but it's really about the love of books and the stories they tell. I still have lines from the book stuck in my head and pictures of how the town Travis looked like the world in A Wrinkle in Time. This was a book that I would read again and again just for the feeling it gives me about reading.
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on September 20, 2011
The book is well written and uses language in clear easy to read prose at a grade level that is appropriate for pre-teens, while still challenging. The author chose 3rd person limited omniscience, which gave him the ability to describe scenes and narrate the story from an adult point of view. Although third person tends to remove the reader from involvement in the story, Buzbee manages to keep the reader involved.

He captured the rebellious nature of pre-teens without damaging the parent-child relationship. He also captured the trap that adults fall into when their careers consume their lives. The protagonist's recognition of this phenomena seemed too mature to be real. He does capture the pre-teen camaraderie - the secret club - the secret handshake world of boys. There are no girls in the story, which makes it feel a little single focused. The librarian takes the place of a female friend.

None of the weird sightings is ever explained. The novel seems too preachy, particularly at the outset when the author narrates the importance of libraries.

The book could have been linked to Osa - i.e. the character could have been a manifestation of the author. There were quite a few incomplete threads - the mystery of character visions, the role that Osa will play in his own future, how this affects the boys' futures, etc.

The plot line was a little weak in that it's hard for me to believe that the characters in the story were turned on by the library or the crusade to keep it open. These are two very unusual pre-teen boys.

The book tends to be didactic. That said, some of the humor in the dialogue between Hil and Travis was very well done.
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on November 3, 2014
Looking for some books to entice a reluctant reader, I stumbled upon Mr. Buzbee's book in a library book sale and was captivated by the cover description. I have read my share of Steinbeck throughout my high school and college years and had a comfortable relationship with the author. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly the author engaged me and had me hooked into the story of a young boy trying to make sense of his life and new environs. The addition of characters from Steinbeck's classics added to the story without overpowering Travis' struggle to fit in and find his place in the world. I especially enjoyed the research scenes, which made the task seem like a great adventure to share with friends. As a former elementary school teacher, I wish I had shared it with my classes. As a grandmother, I am looking forward to giving this novel to my grandson and discussing it with him. As several previous reviewers have mentioned, I found myself dusting off my old copies of Steinbeck's stories and rereading them. What a wonderful means to refresh people's memory (or entice them in the first place) and revisit great literature. As a stand-alone novel, this book hits all the right buttons. I whole-heartedly recommend this book for middle school students and up.
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on September 4, 2008
Since I didn't grow up in this country, I never read young adult books in English. I have always read the most "serious" adult English literature but "Steinbeck's Ghost" was one of the few young adult books I have read. Even though I am not in my teens any longer, I fell in love with this book immediately! The way the author approaches childhood and the reality of life is magical. He never makes you feel like the book was written for kids but is so sensitive to the young adult's mind. Buzbee's love for books and the immense importance of them seeps through every sentence and makes each page come alive. I hope EVERY parent gets this book for their child and maybe even read it together because Buzbee shows us how literature is not only a personal experience but can be and should be shared.
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on September 3, 2008
Lewis Buzbee has proven his love of books in his acclaimed THE YELLOW-LIGHTED BOOKSHOP, and his talent as a craftsman of fiction with AFTER THE GOLD RUSH. Now, Buzbee adds another element to his accomplishments as an author with STEINBECK'S GHOST, a kids' book on the surface that holds so much within its pages for readers who, like Buzbee, love great books. Weaving so many great references to Steinbeck's work and his favored California locales through a catchy mystery tale, STEINBECK'S GHOST is sure to appeal to young readers, and, more importantly, inspire them to read more great fiction. A great book for readers from middle school on up... librarians and teachers are going to absolutely love STEINBECK'S GHOST.
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