Like The Enormous Egg, this book takes an utterly implausible situation and makes it completely believable. Though it is ridiculous to think of a home in upstate New York housing a volcano in its basement, the way the situation is explained within the context of the story makes perfect sense. The family does not come to life quite as strongly as many other families I have read about in vintage kids' books, but the town overall does develop a personality as the book goes on, and there are a lot of humorous moments where the Finches make ridiculous excuses to hide the strangeness of what goes on in their basement.
This is a clever and light-hearted story, and the odd premise and surprise ending will appeal to a broad range of ages, including adults. It would make a great read-aloud for a snow day, as well as a perfect fictional tie-in for scientific lessons on volcanoes.