Cowboy Ghost

Robert Newton Peck, Author HarperCollins Publishers $15.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-028168-7
Mighty flavorsome language just about disguises a predictable plot in this cowboy tale about the youngest son of a domineering Florida rancher who reaches manhood during an arduous cattle drive. Titus, 16, makes an energetic narrator, speaking in a 1920s ranchhand slang that is sometimes punctuated with off-color humor: ""[Riding drag], I soon appreciated, is the absolute worst position to work at while pushing beef. The rear end of misery. Ranching's rectum."" Unable to relate to his bitter, hyper-masculine widower father, Titus idolizes his ill-fated older brother, Micah. He also hears occasional words of wisdom from the ghost of the title, an undeveloped guardian angel figure who appears for the first time as some strange noises in the barn late at night, but within two or three days becomes ""my old Cowboy Ghost."" The characters are stock: a right feisty, devoted housekeeper ""who sometimes had a temper that could spit upwind and bust a window""; a Chinese cook named Pan Tin (but called Tin Pan by the cowpokes), who ""cooked tasty and smiled frequent""; a foreman who reminds ignorant newcomers that ""it ain't a fault or a weakness to git born a yeller Chinaman. Or be a black."" Not in the same league as Peck's A Day No Pigs Would Die or his Soup books, this novel nonetheless capably tours readers through a favorite fictional venue. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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FORMATS
Paperback - 978-0-06-440750-2
Library Binding - 208 pages - 978-0-06-028211-0
Paperback - 202 pages - 978-0-06-447228-9
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-18684-1
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-28453-0
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