Waldo only dreams, now and then, that his parents turn themselves into a squirrel and a prairie dog.
The rest—the flying house, the hijacking, the wild aerial race, and climactic dust-up with the “dastardliest criminal in the world”—turns out to be all too real. The “heavyset” lad (“chubby,” to quote fierce but frank ally Iris, who also goes by “Shorty” because she’s 3 feet tall) is annoyed but not too surprised one 1891 morning to discover that his brilliant if remote inventor parents, Sharon and McLaron, have turned the house into a flying machine to enter a certain continent-spanning race. Numerous obstacles to winning first prize arise on the way, including a competitor’s hurled bananas and a holdup by criminally decent Rose Blackwood in an effort to prove herself to her evil clan by springing her older brother, Benedict, the Arizona Territory’s most fearsome bandit, from jail. Benedict turns out to be a baddie, all right, but no match for the Barons and Rose. Plans go wrong but turn right by the end, just in time for Waldo’s 11th birthday and a new invention, inspired by his recurrent dream, that promises further distinctly unusual family adventures. In Grochalska’s scattered vignettes there is some diversity of skin color in crowd scenes, but Waldo and the rest of the main cast are white.
Even sans actual rodents, just about as wild as one might hope the West can get. (Adventure. 10-13)