The story has a timeless feel; contemporary and yet touched by the magic of fables. It is told in very short chapters and in the rhythms of oral tales. The animal characters (two dogs, a cat and a seagull) are given nearly as much depth and personality as the humans.
I had heard that this book has gay content; it does, but you have to be patient. Henri Beauchamp's backstory is not introduced until more than halfway through the book. When he was 15, he fell in love with another boy in France. Before Henri boarded a ship headed for Texas, Jack gave him a porte-bonheur. This talisman - lost and found - not only brings Henri happiness in his old age, but also is instrumental to the success of Keeper's quest. The theme of chosen family is also important.
For readers in Grade 3 and up. It would work well as a family read-aloud. The nonsense words borrowed from Jabberwocky may inspire a re-reading of Lewis Carroll's poem. Readalike: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, for another spirited girl who loves the natural world and is raised by a woman who is not her biological mother.