Steinbeck's Ghost

Lewis Buzbee

Feiwel & Friends

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.


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


Praise for Steinbeck's Ghost

Praise for Steinbeck's Ghost:
"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
Praise for The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop:

“You realize Buzbee just doesn’t love books, he’s besotted.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“A delectable feast…. I cannot remember when I have read a book with such delight.”—Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Bookstore

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Lewis Buzbee

  • 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.
  • Lewis Buzbee Julie Bruck



Discussion Guide


Available Formats and Book Details

Steinbeck's Ghost

Lewis Buzbee

Northern California Book Award Master List
  • Trade Paperback


  • e-Book