Pinkwater's Neddiad: awesome YA novel with ghosts, fat alien cops, shamans, circus animals, triplanes, swordfighting, etc

I've been catching up with a bunch of Daniel Pinkwater books lately, most recently The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization, his 2007 young adult novel that contains (in no particular order): circus animals, Pullman trains, sleight of hand, Navaho shaman, triplanes, the Grand Canyon, shoelaces, ghosts, cowboys, fat alien cops in grey station wagons, swordfighting, torture, rescue, a Roman coliseum, elder gods, and tar-soaked fossils.

The Neddiad concerns the cross-country migration of Neddie Wentworthstein, who one day mentions to his war-enriched shoelace-magnate father that he'd like to eat in the Brown Derby in Hollywood (because, hey, restaurant shaped like a hat!), prompting his father to realize that he, too, had always dreamt of dining in a hat. The family immediately moves to Los Angeles, taking the train, and Neddie loses the family in Arizona, meets a shaman, is given a holy relic, meets a cowboy and a ghost and a best friend, finds his way to Los Angeles, and saves the world.

So, it's your basic Daniel Pinkwater plot: hilarious, goofy, sweet, wildly imaginative, and filled with food and adventure. I loved every page. As Neil Gaiman writes in his blurb, "Pinkwater is the uniquest. And so are his books. Each uniquer than the last… A delight in oddness. A magic that's not like anyone else's."

He's so right. I do believe that Daniel Pinkwater is my favorite writer, living or dead.

The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization