Cover image for Cowboy ghost
Cowboy ghost
Peck, Robert Newton.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
200 pages ; 22 cm
Growing up without a mother and with an aloof father on a cattle ranch in Florida in the first part of the 1900s has made Titus very close to his older brother, Micah, and determined to make Micah proud of him when the two go on their first cattle drive together.
Reading Level:
740 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.5 5.0 29333.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.3 10 Quiz: 13262 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Sixteen year old Tee MacRobertson can saddle a wild mustang and hold his own on a round-up, but proving to his father that he's every bit as good a rancher as his older brother, burly Micah--now that's a real challenge. Robert Newton Peck has crafted a riveting coming-of-age story set in the 1920's in Florida's dusty and rugged "long" country. Tracing one boy's grueling journey on an unforgettable cattle drive, "Cowboy Ghost" is a heart-pounding drama about what it means to become a man. With a cast of characters that range from the spectral to the down and dirty, a tempestuous storm, unpredictible Seminoles, and an all-out stampede, this unusual cowboy story explores one boys struggle to become the rancher no one but his brother ever believed he could be.

2001 ALA Popular Paperback for YAs

01-02 Golden Sower Award Masterlist (YA Cat.) and 00-01 Tayshas High School Reading List

Author Notes

Robert Newton Peck was born in Vermont on February 17, 1928. During World War II, he served as a machine-gunner in the U.S. Army 88th Infantry Division between 1945 and 1947. He received a B.A. degree from Rollins College in 1953 and studied law at Cornell University. He worked as a lumberjack, in a papermill, killing hogs, and as an advertising executive before the publication of his first book, A Day No Pigs Would Die, in 1972. It was named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults in 1973. His other works include Soup and Me, Soup on Ice, Cowboy Ghost, Horse Thief, and Bro.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-9. Titus MacRobinson is heir to two legacies: his family's expansive Spur Box ranch and his father's icy disdain for having survived the birth that killed his mother. Luckily for young Titus, he is guided with religious compassion by the resident housekeeper, and with sensitivity by his much older brother, Micah. Although only 16, scrawny, and tentative about his abilities, Titus decides to prove his manhood to his aging father by helping Micah lead a grueling cattle drive across Florida. Along the way, Titus gains some surprising insights about himself, Micah, and, most important, the family history that strains the MacRobinson household. As with many of Peck's books, the strength of the novel emerges from richly drawn characters whose evolution is unpredictable but entirely believable. Even the ghost of the title (not an actual apparition but an awareness Titus holds deep within) develops over time and becomes a pivotal character in its own right. Peck's blend of traditional machismo and contemporary male sensitivity ensures this title a ready audience. --Roger Leslie

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-This is the story of 16-year-old Titus MacRobertson's growth into manhood during a cattle drive in early 20th-century Florida. Along the way, the boy and his cow-puncher mates struggle against attacks by Seminole Indians and cattle thieves, horrendous weather, and the difficult conditions and hard work required to drive 500 steer several hundred miles through the wilderness. Readers will be entertained by the way Peck portrays the cowboy lifestyle, including his liberal use of folksy, country jargon. There is plenty of action, but the novel also has its sensitive side as when Titus deals with his older brother's death and learns of the darker side of his family and its lasting effects. The teen's transformation from cook's helper to leader of the cattle drive might be a little too abrupt, but it does not significantly detract from a good story.-William C. Schadt, Glacier Park Middle School, Maple Valley, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.