Guide to Literary Agents did a post last month called Everything You Would’ve Asked About Steampunk, Had You Known It Existed. Guest columnist Matt Betts quoted agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe as saying that steampunk is "not just magic with things just appearing out of thin air, but it's people inventing things—even if these steam-powered/clockwork run machines are ultimately too fantastical to ever actually exist in real life, it feels like...well maybe they really can. That's probably the kid in me wishing for that, but who cares, right?"
This reminded me of a Garrison Keillor column at Salon, in which he talked about how there used to be a romantic element to building and creating things that seems to have been lost the last couple of decades or so. Perhaps steampunk, particularly steampunk for children, brings back some of that romance.