Monday, May 9, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Steinbeck's Ghost

Lewis Buzbee's Steinbeck's Ghost describes libraries, books, and book's characters exactly as I've imagined them - as if they are alive. Published in 2008, Steinbeck's Ghost appeals to mystery lovers (a mystery unlike any other develops), but because of its many literary references, upper level MG readers and higher will enjoy it most.

The Premise: Thirteen-year-old Travis and his parents move from a small, shabby house in Salinas, California (John Steinbeck's boyhood home), to a roomy, new one in a fancy subdivision. The new house and neighborhood are eerie and strange and too perfect. To reconnect with his old life, Travis bikes to the library. The John Steinbeck Memorial Library. As he approaches the library, he sees a homeless man. But he's not a homeless man. He's a character from one of Steinbeck's books. While at the library, Travis's favorite librarian tells him the library will soon close forever because of city budget cuts. On his way home, Travis bikes past the house where John Steinbeck grew up and sees a boy in the window. But nobody lives there anymore......

What keeps readers reading: Steinbeck's Ghost weaves a mysterious plot with beautiful descriptions and upbeat action. Travis is on an adventure to separate fact from fiction. He also must save the library. Along the way, we see how libraries and the books in them take us out into the world and way beyond ourselves.

Other regular MMGMers:
Brooke Favero @ somewhere in the middle
Shannon Whitney Messenger @   Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
Ally Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy
Ben Langhinrichs @ My Comfy Chair
Joanne Fritz @ My Brain on Books
Myrna Foster @ Night Writer
Shannon O'Donnell @ Book Dreaming
Solvang Sherrie @ Write About Now
Deb Marshall @ Just Deb
Anita Laydon Miller @ Middle Grade Blog
Natalie Aguirre @ Literary Rambles


  1. I've heard of this book! And it sounds wonderful. Maybe I can convince my own MG age child to read it...

  2. I remember seeing this book but never read it. Thanks for the great recommendation. Love the idea of separating fact from fiction as well as saving a library!

    Thanks for the link.

  3. Sounds like a great book. I love mysteries and upper middle grade.

  4. Lisa, I hope so; it's a dandy.

    Joanne, I just happened across it at the library one day and was entranced by the way Buzbee talked of libraries and books.

    Natalie, the mystery is unlike any I've read.

  5. What a great premise! And I love the cover :)

  6. Isn't it intriguing? Place it on your TBR list. You won't be sorry. I view book's characters in a whole new way because of this story.

  7. I've never heard of this one. Thanks for the review!

  8. I just finished East of Eden, so we must be channelling the same Steinbeck vibe. I'll have to check this out. I also grew up in San Jose. My HS played salinas but we were never allowed to go to the games because Salinas HS was super sketchy.

  9. Myrna, I happened across it at....the library =)....saw the title, and as a lover of Steinbeck, couldn't leave it on the shelf. I've since purchased a hardcover, which I only do for my very favorites.

    Bfav, I need yet to read EAST OF EDEN. The sketchiness (and wanting to 'move up' in society) was why Travis' parents moved. Interesting.


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