Thursday, January 01, 2009

Steinbeck's Ghost by Lewis Buzbee

Though I read a lot of books, I don't consider myself a literary snob who refuses to read any particular genre because it is beneath me or not targeted to my particular age range. In fact, I've often found, over the years, that some of the best fiction and glorious prose can be found in young adult and childrens books. That was certainly true for CS Lewis' Narnia, Tolkiens Lord of the Rings, all of Jean Russell Larsons marvelous children's books, Jane Yolens books, TH Whites Merlin and JK Rowlings Harry Potter series. John Steinbeck is my favorite classic literature author, and I am always on the prowl for books written by the master or about him, as bard of the American soul.
Thus when I stumbled upon a review in Locus Magazine of Steinbeck's Ghost, I was immediately taken by the idea of a young adult book set in Salinas, John Steinbecks home town.
Lewis Buzbee doesn't disappoint,with this marvelously written tale of a 13-year-old boy named Travis who has just moved to a new housing complex, but soon discovers that there are ghosts of Steinbeck characters lurking around every corner. Then when the local John Steinbeck library is threatened with closure, Travis and his buddy Hilario start all kinds of projects (with the guidance of their friendly local librarian, of course) to raise money and save their precious palace of books and the other worlds within them. Along the way they meet an author of a book about Steinbecks valley, and the three amigos end up in all sorts of fascinating adventures.
This was a wonderful book that was thrilling to Steinbeck fans and kids alike. The prose was gold, the plot swift and sure, and the characters riveting. I was seriously sad when I finished the book, because I was having such a marvelous time in Mr Buzbees world. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the world of John Steinbeck and to those who love books and libraries and all the treasures they contain.

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