A twisty little fairy tale practically drunk on language and deeply rooted in American idiom. It invites comparison with some greats in juvenile fantasy - as others have noted, there are similarities to Oz, and to Alice and to The Phantom Tollbooth. I would also add - to Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories, there is some of that same midwestern experience and poet's voice and imagination.
But this is not just a knock off, it invites comparisons to those others because like them it is its own ideosyncratic kind of strange filled with its own very particular kind of wonders. All of which is just terrific and entirely likeable.
So WHY oh why oh why the occasional egregious errors in grammar and continuity?? Can someone PLEASE get Ms Valente a good editor? Or are editors extinct in the wild? Have they become another of the wonderous beasts only to be found through the looking glass or at the back of the north wind?