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The Haunting of Charles Dickens Hardcover – October 26, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6-8–Nineteenth-century London was a dangerous place for children; some were stolen from their families and forced to work in dreadful factories. Young Meg Pickel is not one of these unfortunates; she has a safe home and a loving family, but her teenage brother disappeared six months earlier, and their widowed father appears to have given up hope of finding him. The Pickels are not without resources; their dear friend is the world-famous novelist Charles Dickens, and he joins forces with Meg to solve the mystery of Orion's disappearance. Their search allows readers to tour the city, with its horse-drawn carriages, pubs, heavy fog, pickpockets, and press gangs. Many scenes and characters take inspiration from Dickens's novels. But having the author in the mix is a bit of a deus ex machina; his fame and fortune help the characters through many a tight spot. The tale begins with a fake seance and a real ghost, but Buzbee never revisits or explains these supernatural elements. Instead, he gets the search moving quickly, and the fast pace may help some readers past the flowery, pseudo-Dickensian writing style. Ruth's delightful black-and-white drawings add atmosphere and interest. If historical mystery fans are not quite up for Philip Pullman's Ruby in the Smoke (Knopf, 1987) or Eleanor Updale's Montmorency (Scholastic, 2004), this book could be a good way to work up to them.–Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

After young Orion disappears, his sister, Meg, finds herself unable to sleep. Restless with insomnia, she creeps out of her house one night, leaps across the roofs of London, and comes upon a séance, where she discovers not only an urchin she believes could be her brother, but also a sleepless and wandering Charles Dickens. Dickens, a customer in her father’s print shop and a family friend, is seeking inspiration for his next book, and he finds it as he joins Meg’s search for her missing sibling. Buzbee, author of the award-winning Steinbeck’s Ghost (2008), has humanized another literary giant, revealing not only Dickens’ humor and foibles but also the seedy, cruel underside of nineteenth-century London, including its exploitation of children. While exploring basic human rights issues, Buzbee also offers a rollicking good historical mystery, written in Dickens’ style and illustrated with appealing line drawings, which include a subtle tip of the hat to a more contemporary London that a few readers may catch. Grades 5-8. --Frances Bradburn
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312382561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312382568
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,945,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I greatly enjoyed being swept away into the London of the Dickens era. While the phony seance near the beginning of The Haunting of Charles Dickens may have hinted at ghosts and paranormal, it soon becomes apparent it is trickery and unscrupulous business practies that Meg and Mr. Dickens must overcome. Meg, who had gone out in search of her lost brother, Orion, was drawn to the strange green glow emanating from skylights of an empty mansion. There she comes across her old family friend, Charles Dickens, who is also looking in on the seance. Before their secretive viewing of the seance is over, Meg glimpses a young man she believes to be her brother who has been missing for six months. This lifts her heart and resolve to find her brother. In tracking Orion through old London, Meg comes across many signs he left behind. Her sleuthing and work in their family's printing shop leads her to seek more for herself when she's grown, rather than just marriage into a suitable family.

The setting of Dickens era London was vivid for me, including travel by foot and carriage complete with the clop of horses's hooves on cobblestones. The jingle of the horses's harnesses, the squeeking of the buggies and carts, and the smell of a soot permeated city all add to the intensity of the scenes. The sights, smells and decay of old London remind the reader of that manufacturing era.

The haunting in this story comes about three ways: The first apparent haunting is the loss parents experience for their "lost" children who've been forced into labor in those 'underground' sweatshops. The haunting that effects Charles Dickens reflects his state of mind and emotions rather than being about ghosts. Meg is haunted by the loss of her older brother, Orion, yet she refuses to believe he is dead.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Pickel family owns a print shop and has customers/friends with the likes of Charles Dickens. The daughter of the house, Meg, is adventurous and daring. She is strong willed and tries to find her missing older brother. While traveling at night through London she unexpectedly meets Charles Dickens. They make a pact that they will save Meg's brother.

I felt different enjoyment from this book then Buzbee's Steinbeck Ghost. Instead of flowing into each book Steinbeck wrote this one was a whole new mystery featuring Dickens and mentions of his stories. Meg and Dickens are interesting partners. Dickens comes across very fun loving which if you have seen real photos of Dickens you would not think that of him because I have not seen one where he smiles.

This book tells about the dark side of the times for children who worked in labor houses like Dickens did once as a child. So book has a little grittiness to it that makes some it hard to enjoy even though it may be based on facts. Dickens does make it laughable at times by dress in odd suits and meeting odd souls. Good read for Dickens lovers.
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By msog177 on October 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm reading "The Haunting of Charles Dickens" and I've been enchanted since page 1. The illustrations are beautiful and so is the story. The book is written for young adults but that doesn't mean everyone can't enjoy it. I can't wait for my breaks at work so I can get immersed in the story again. I read Steinbeck's Ghost and fell in love with it and I already feel the same about this book. It's a smart, interesting and honest novel for all to enjoy, young and old. I definitely recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love reading both YA fiction and historical fiction and was particularly impressed with The Haunting of Charles Dickens, a book I received a while back and only managed to read recently due to work and school commitments. The story centers around teenage protagonist Meg Pickel, who is desperately searching for her missing brother, Orion, who inexplicably disappeared six months earlier. Luckily for Meg, a family friend, Charles Dickens, aids her in her search.

The novel is filled with historical details, made all the more vivid by the illustrations of Greg Ruth, and drawing readers into the dark underbelly of London during the time. The historical details blend in with the story and bring this period to life, and as a reader, I felt transported into the London of the past, with all its bleakness and despair. The author masterfully recreates the period and lends the work a high level of credibility, a crucial ingredient for the success of a historical novel. Even the language used is for the most part faithful to the time period. The only drawback is that at times, the overly descriptive language can get a wee bit tedious, but other than that, I felt the author did an excellent job recreating 19th century London.

Credible, in-depth characterization is another important element I look for in a work of fiction, and Meg Pickel is a character that young adults will easily relate to. She is full of pluck and derring-do (walking on rooftops at night!); is observant and candid; curious and intelligent. It was heartening to see a strong female character in a story set in a period when females were for the most part subservient to men.

I loved this story and look forward to more of such from the author.
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