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by Lewis Buzbee

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-312-37328-3
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

An avid reader, 13-year-old Travis becomes involved in local efforts to save the Salinas, Calif., public library from closing and discovers there’s a fine line between reality and fiction—especially in the town John Steinbeck immortalized. Since moving from a small, comfy house in Oldtown Salinas to a sterile development, Travis’s parents seem too preoccupied with work to pay attention to him. Lonely and unsettled, Travis returns to the Oldtown library and immediately feels reconnected to his former life. After checking out books by and about Steinbeck, Travis begins to see characters from the author’s stories. With the library slated to close, Travis joins the fundraising and becomes “part of something huge,” embarking on a personal as well as literary pilgrimage through Steinbeck country to uncover an untold story from the past. Heavy reliance on intertextual references to Steinbeck’s work proves a bit daunting, but appropriate for the bibliophile protagonist who went “to the library looking for a book, but...found so much more.” Magical realism with Steinbeck’s ghost and a discerning young hero. (Fiction. 10-14)