Parents' Guide to

Steinbeck's Ghost

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

A rare treat for young book lovers.

Steinbeck's Ghost Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say Not yet rated
Kids say (3):

This book won't be to every child's taste, but if you know any truly book-loving children, make sure they get their hands on it -- it's a rare treat.

Authors, it goes without saying, are almost by definition booklovers. And many of them have tried to express that love of books in their own work (see Other Choices below for some good examples). Often this leads them down the path of the grandly fantastic, in which people magically enter the books they are reading. Rarely has it worked the other way, where characters from their books enter their own lives. And almost never in the small, subtle ways they do here. This is an author who doesn't think you have to call in the big special effects to dramatize the wonder of books -- they do it all by themselves, in the myriad ways they move and change us.

In this unusual novel, reading and talking about books and thinking about them and going to the library are the adventures. It begins when Travis steps out of his new house in the planned subdivision with identical houses, and realizes he's in Camazotz. If you don't get that reference, put down the computer right now and get yourself a copy of A Wrinkle in Time . It's not necessary to have read Steinbeck, or any of the many other books referenced in the story, to understand and enjoy this, but familiarity certainly enhances the pleasure.

From the Book

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 in the world; the world was in books.

Book Details

  • Author: Lewis Buzbee
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Macmillan
  • Publication date: September 1, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
  • Number of pages: 343
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate