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School Library Journal:

Gr 7 – 10 — Early one morning, eight-year-old Noah Barleywater runs away from home. Almost immediately, he finds himself, like Alice in Wonderland or Milo journeying past the Phantom Tollbooth, in a world turned upside down, where animals talk, a few stolen apples lead to a world of trouble, a house remakes itself to replace missing parts as needed, and a mysterious toy maker gladly shares the outrageous adventures of his youth. A sense of impending doom fills the story as it becomes evident that Noah’s mother is dying, and knowledgeable readers will be able to figure out the identity of the toy maker long before his name is actually given. The story is told mostly from Noah’s viewpoint; however, the tone is adult, somewhat nostalgic, and even melancholy. Older, more sophisticated kids might appreciate the whimsical humor, creative details, and fairy-tale connection; the true audience for this novel is long past elementary school age.—Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library –Mara Alpert (Reviewed September 1, 2011) (School Library Journal, vol 57, issue 9, p146)