Synopses & Reviews
Its been two months since Traviss 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.
Theres 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.
Its only natural that Travis likes the work of author John Steinbeck—after all, Salinas is Steinbecks hometown. But that cant explain why Travis is suddenly seeing Steinbecks characters spring to life. Theres 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 Steinbecks beautiful California landscape, looking for a way to save his safe haven. Its 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.
"In his middle-grade debut, Buzbee (The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop) pays eerie tribute to a great American author. A native of Salinas, Calif., Travis Williams is campaigning to save the public library (named after the town's most famous citizen, John Steinbeck) when he's unsettled by seeing a ghost in the attic window of Steinbeck's childhood house, hearing a vagrant spouting dialogue from The Red Pony and finding a cave that holds dark secrets about Steinbeck's history. As he joins forces with a classmate and a Steinbeck expert, Travis finds himself drawn into a mystery at least as exciting as those he's read about in books. Creating a brand of magical realism that is more thought provoking than scary, Buzbee resurrects Steinbeck characters and scenes to tell a story within a story. If events are strung together too tidily to allow for a happy ending, 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. Ages 10 14. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
What will Travis do when characters from books start appearing in his real life?
Its been two months since Traviss family moved from their shabby old house to a development so new that it seems totally unreal. Theres 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: the works of John Steinbeck. Suddenly Travis is seeing Steinbecks characters come to life. Theres the homeless man in the alley behind the library, the boy who writes by night in an attic bedroom. Travis has met them before—as a reader. But how can they be here now? And why?
A satisfying mystery that involves a boy who loves books, a library threatened with closing, and, quite possibly, the ghost of the writer John Steinbeck.
About the Author
LEWIS BUZBEE is a former bookseller and sales rep, and the author of the acclaimed adult memoir, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, published by Graywolf Press in June 2006. His next book, The Haunting of Charles Dickens, will be available from Feiwel and Friends in Fall 2010. A native Californian, Lewis lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter.