Books Kids Fiction The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

http://www.yabookscentral.com/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x275s/c6/ff/c1/13050_fairyland-1345946412.jpeg
 
5.0
 
4.5 (1)
317   0
Genre(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
May 10, 2011
ISBN
9780312649616
Buy This Book
      
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

Editor reviews

What I Loved:
Though Catherynne M. Valente's novels have been on my radar for a while now, I've honestly been a bit terrified to read them. They're so lauded by readers I respect highly and I really feared that I would be the black sheep of dissidence. I'd heard they were strange and that doesn't always jive so well with my tastes, but, oh, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is just the right kind of strange.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland recalls many classic tales: Alice in Wonderland, the myth of Persephone, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to name a few. I make these comparisons not to suggest that Valente's tale lacks in originality in any way, but that she cleverly weaves a story full of allusions to those classic tales. Though I don't usually do this, I'm going to structure much of my review around these comparisons, since The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland has been reviewed by many people already, and I feel free to do my own weird thing with it.

The tone and the sheer madcap adventure-filled feel of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is one hundred percent Alice in Wonderland. Though there was little that specifically seemed directly out of Carroll's classic absurdist tale, his influence is visible on every page. The girl stumbles into a magical land and bounces from quest to quest, with the ultimate goal of unseating an evil female ruler, who destroyed the benevolent queen. Valente fully embraces the absurd, but, where Carroll's story lacks for me—characterization, Valente shines, but I'll talk about that more later.

The Persephone myth works as a frame story to September's adventures. There are clever references throughout, but the main purpose is to explain why September will eventually return. I love the way that Valente set up the very end. It's simply perfection, bringing the rest of the plotting full circle. Sometimes it feels like the weird novels are so spontaneous and surprising because the author didn't know what was going on either, but it's very apparent that Valente knew exactly what she was doing.

I have two points to make with reference to the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The most overt similarity is that one of the characters traveled to Fairyland by means of wardrobe, an obvious omage to Lewis' tale. However, there's another comparison to be made, a bit subtler. Like Lewis' classic, September travels to a magical world during wartime. Her father is off fighting in WWII and her mother works as an engineer. She feels lonely and doesn't understand what's going on very well. Valente turns September's adventures in Fairyland into a neat platform by which to make observations on the nature of war.

As I said, there's so much more to Valente's tale than those structural similarities, all of which I love a lot. Her characters are a delight, though I must admit this is one of those times where the supporting cast is much more dear to me than the MC. September is a delightful girl, it's true. She has a lot more strength and graciousness than the average heroine, and is much more empowered in her story than any of the ones in the three classic tales I mentioned previously, which is utterly fantastic. She just can't compete with her sidekicks, though.

Those who know me well will probably not be surprised to learn that my favorite character is A-Through-L, affectionately known as Ell, the wyverary. He's a wyvern, sort of like a dragon, but also the son of a library. He knows absolutely everything about anything found between the letters A through L, which is immensely helpful on a journey, and he's the most delightful companion a girl could want through Fairyland. I also love Gleam, a lantern over a century old and desperate for adventure, and Saturday, a creature similar to a genie who I'm really looking forward to getting to know better in the next installment.

Even the evil Marquess is a marvelously well-drawn character. Often villains take a back seat to the good guys, lacking complexities in books with otherwise sophisticated characterization. Valente, however, made her villain one of the most complex characters in the piece. She gives the Marquess a reason for the way she is, and makes her at least a little bit sympathetic.

On top of all of that, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. Her writing is a veritable feast of deliciously underused words. Though I do think this might be a tough read for children, it would be a perfect choice for parents to read aloud to their kids, though they may end up explaining quite a few terms. This is a story that will delight children, I think, but adults even more so, in a rather different way perhaps.

The Final Verdict:
Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is absolutely marvelous, and I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone who delights in verbiage, characterization, fairy tales, or any of those stories I mentioned above. With this one book, Valente goes on my auto-read list.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0

Valente Deserves Every Bit of Hype

What I Loved:
Though Catherynne M. Valente's novels have been on my radar for a while now, I've honestly been a bit terrified to read them. They're so lauded by readers I respect highly and I really feared that I would be the black sheep of dissidence. I'd heard they were strange and that doesn't always jive so well with my tastes, but, oh, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is just the right kind of strange.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland recalls many classic tales: Alice in Wonderland, the myth of Persephone, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to name a few. I make these comparisons not to suggest that Valente's tale lacks in originality in any way, but that she cleverly weaves a story full of allusions to those classic tales. Though I don't usually do this, I'm going to structure much of my review around these comparisons, since The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland has been reviewed by many people already, and I feel free to do my own weird thing with it.

The tone and the sheer madcap adventure-filled feel of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is one hundred percent Alice in Wonderland. Though there was little that specifically seemed directly out of Carroll's classic absurdist tale, his influence is visible on every page. The girl stumbles into a magical land and bounces from quest to quest, with the ultimate goal of unseating an evil female ruler, who destroyed the benevolent queen. Valente fully embraces the absurd, but, where Carroll's story lacks for me—characterization, Valente shines, but I'll talk about that more later.

The Persephone myth works as a frame story to September's adventures. There are clever references throughout, but the main purpose is to explain why September will eventually return. I love the way that Valente set up the very end. It's simply perfection, bringing the rest of the plotting full circle. Sometimes it feels like the weird novels are so spontaneous and surprising because the author didn't know what was going on either, but it's very apparent that Valente knew exactly what she was doing.

I have two points to make with reference to the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The most overt similarity is that one of the characters traveled to Fairyland by means of wardrobe, an obvious omage to Lewis' tale. However, there's another comparison to be made, a bit subtler. Like Lewis' classic, September travels to a magical world during wartime. Her father is off fighting in WWII and her mother works as an engineer. She feels lonely and doesn't understand what's going on very well. Valente turns September's adventures in Fairyland into a neat platform by which to make observations on the nature of war.

As I said, there's so much more to Valente's tale than those structural similarities, all of which I love a lot. Her characters are a delight, though I must admit this is one of those times where the supporting cast is much more dear to me than the MC. September is a delightful girl, it's true. She has a lot more strength and graciousness than the average heroine, and is much more empowered in her story than any of the ones in the three classic tales I mentioned previously, which is utterly fantastic. She just can't compete with her sidekicks, though.

Those who know me well will probably not be surprised to learn that my favorite character is A-Through-L, affectionately known as Ell, the wyverary. He's a wyvern, sort of like a dragon, but also the son of a library. He knows absolutely everything about anything found between the letters A through L, which is immensely helpful on a journey, and he's the most delightful companion a girl could want through Fairyland. I also love Gleam, a lantern over a century old and desperate for adventure, and Saturday, a creature similar to a genie who I'm really looking forward to getting to know better in the next installment.

Even the evil Marquess is a marvelously well-drawn character. Often villains take a back seat to the good guys, lacking complexities in books with otherwise sophisticated characterization. Valente, however, made her villain one of the most complex characters in the piece. She gives the Marquess a reason for the way she is, and makes her at least a little bit sympathetic.

On top of all of that, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. Her writing is a veritable feast of deliciously underused words. Though I do think this might be a tough read for children, it would be a perfect choice for parents to read aloud to their kids, though they may end up explaining quite a few terms. This is a story that will delight children, I think, but adults even more so, in a rather different way perhaps.

The Final Verdict:
Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is absolutely marvelous, and I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone who delights in verbiage, characterization, fairy tales, or any of those stories I mentioned above. With this one book, Valente goes on my auto-read list.

Was this review helpful to you? 
 

User reviews

Average user rating from: 1 user(s)

Already have an account? or Create an account
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0  (1)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0  (1)
Wow. Just…wow.
Okay, maybe not just wow, but I am slightly awed by the amazingness that is this book. Sure, it has a pretty cover, but somehow it still manages to sit on the shelf all unassuming-like with such a magical story captured between its pages.

I’m not going to lie, when I first started (shall we call it The Girl? Yes, I think we shall) The Girl I wasn’t all too sure I’d like it. The writing wasn’t something I was at all used to, same story with the illustrations, and everything just seemed terribly, terribly strange. Somewhere between the flying leopard’s and the talking Wyvraries strange became a very good thing, though.

Now, I imagine you peering at your computer/phone screen and thinking to yourself “she’s gone right mad, hasn’t she” (if you think like a faintly British person, at least), but you’re wrong. I’ve simply been swept up by an amazingly spectacular story. I know my adjectives seem to be running away from me, but I can think of no other way to express my love for The Girl.

I’m sure many people think all the best fairy-tales have already been written but I’m happy to say that is most certainly not the case. It seems to me it’s a bit harder for things to become “classics” these days, but by golly, if I had the power I’d go around stamping every copy of this book with a “This Book is a Classic” certification. It is simply a book that deserves to be read by anyone. This is a book for every child’s wildest, most adventurous dreams as well as a book to revive the child-like wonder that we often lose with age.
The Nusthell: I’m not sure how much more plainly it can be said: The Girl is a book that needs to be read right now so it has that much longer to live in your heart and your memories. This is a book deserving of a shelf where it can live happily, be read many times, passed down through generations, and possibly acquire all the things that come with a well-loved book such as jam finger prints and smudgy edges.
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
Jasmine Reviewed by Jasmine August 17, 2012
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (323)

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland (A Room with Books review)

Wow. Just…wow.
Okay, maybe not just wow, but I am slightly awed by the amazingness that is this book. Sure, it has a pretty cover, but somehow it still manages to sit on the shelf all unassuming-like with such a magical story captured between its pages.

I’m not going to lie, when I first started (shall we call it The Girl? Yes, I think we shall) The Girl I wasn’t all too sure I’d like it. The writing wasn’t something I was at all used to, same story with the illustrations, and everything just seemed terribly, terribly strange. Somewhere between the flying leopard’s and the talking Wyvraries strange became a very good thing, though.

Now, I imagine you peering at your computer/phone screen and thinking to yourself “she’s gone right mad, hasn’t she” (if you think like a faintly British person, at least), but you’re wrong. I’ve simply been swept up by an amazingly spectacular story. I know my adjectives seem to be running away from me, but I can think of no other way to express my love for The Girl.

I’m sure many people think all the best fairy-tales have already been written but I’m happy to say that is most certainly not the case. It seems to me it’s a bit harder for things to become “classics” these days, but by golly, if I had the power I’d go around stamping every copy of this book with a “This Book is a Classic” certification. It is simply a book that deserves to be read by anyone. This is a book for every child’s wildest, most adventurous dreams as well as a book to revive the child-like wonder that we often lose with age.
The Nusthell: I’m not sure how much more plainly it can be said: The Girl is a book that needs to be read right now so it has that much longer to live in your heart and your memories. This is a book deserving of a shelf where it can live happily, be read many times, passed down through generations, and possibly acquire all the things that come with a well-loved book such as jam finger prints and smudgy edges.

Was this review helpful to you? 
 
Powered by JReviews

LATEST YABC BLOG POSTS - BLOG TOURS, ANNOUNCEMENTS, AND GIVEAWAYS

  • #ReadISLA Flashback: Lola And The Boy Next Door

      Hey guys, today we're hanging out with Lola and Cricket!   Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is ...

  • YA Authors as YAs: The Megan Whitmer Edition + Giveaway (US/Canada)

      Welcome to the latest YA Authors as YAs interview! Our goal? To prove that your favorite authors — no matter how AWESOME and COOL you think they are — were once awkward, weird, and they geeked out about fandoms and guilty-pleasure music JUST LIKE YOU when they were teens. ...

  • Check out the trailer for PADDINGTON!

      PADDINGTON   We're so happy to bring you the trailer for PADDINGTON, based on the beloved children's book by Michael Bond, arriving this Christmas!   You know you need a good dose of *bathroom* humor this morning, right? Enjoy! And keep your eyes peeled for PA ...

  • It's live!! Cover Reveal: Charmed by Michelle Krys + Giveaway (International)

      Welcome to this week's cover reveal! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for CHARMED by Michelle Krys, releasing May 26, 2015 from Delacorte Press/Random House Children's Books. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Michelle:   ...

  • #ReadISLA Flashback: Anna And The French Kiss

    Bonjour ami! Je suis heureux que vous soyez ici, j'aime votre visage!   Okay, so, my French is a little rusty, but fingers crossed that I just said,     Hello friends! I'm glad you're here, I like your face!   Today, w ...

  • #ReadISLA

      Hello YABC! I had a BLAST hanging out with Isla and Josh this weekend! See? They said to say, Bonjour! My initial thoughts? ISLA is intense, heart-wrenching romantic perfection! Have you checked out the ISLA chapter sample? If not, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! ...

  • It's live! Cover Reveal: Soulprint by Megan Miranda (US only)

      Happy Almost 4th of July, YABCers! Today we're super excited to reveal the cover for SOULPRINT by Megan Miranda releasing February 3, 2015 from Bloomsbury. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Megan:   Hi there, YABC readers! I’m so excite ...

  • Giveaway: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare Prize Pack Giveaway (International)

      Today we have a guest post giveaway by M.G. Buehrlen, author of THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE. Go forth and enter and win! Hey YABCers! Today feels like a pretty fine day to have a giveaway. And who better to give awesome things away to than the awesome reviewers who help spread ...

  • Excerpt Reveal: Fog of Forgetting by G.A. Morgan

      Hey YABCers! Today we bring you a special treat – a chapter excerpt from THE FOG OF FORGETTING by G.A. Morgan! So grab a cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage, sit back, and enjoy a few pages of 100% totally free fantasy reading.  Before we get to the excerpt, here's a bit ...

  • #ReadISLA Campaign

    Hello Fellow YABCers! I am BEYOND excited that YABC was asked to participate in the #ReadISLA campaign as we eagerly await, ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, the third companion novel in Stephanie Perkins' ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS series!   From the glittering streets of Manh ...

  • It's live!! Cover Reveal: Color Song by Victoria Strauss + Giveaway (US/Canada)

      Happy July, YABCers! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for COLOR SONG by Victoria Strauss, releasing September 16, 2014 from Skyscape. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Victoria:   Hello, YABC! I’m thrilled to be sharin ...

  • Giveaway: One Death, Nine Stories by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (US & Canada Only)

    One Death, Nine Stories by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (editors) Release Date: 8/26/14   About the Book How could one teenage boy’s life elicit other kids’ first experiences — even after he dies? Nine interconnected stories from nine top YA writers. Kev’s t ...

View more blog entries

Latest Book Listings Added

THE SELECTION changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. Now, only one will claim Prince Maxon’s heart… It’s swoon meets...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Fallen ebook COVER RGB-reduced.jpg
Category: Young Adult Indie
Six witnesses ... One deadly fall. No one will ever be the same. Football jock Marcus Wilson had...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
In the hierarchy of magical beings witches reign supreme. Unlike trolls who need rocks to cast their spells or mermaids...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Some kids are just born in a tangle. At sixteen years old, Sawyer Jackson hasn’t seen much beyond...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Shardheld, the third and final book in the great Shardheld Saga, epic fantasy for both Y.A. and Adults. Muus’...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place. In alternating...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Wish You Weren't
Category: Kids Indie
Marten doesn't believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. So when he makes an...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
From the bestselling author of Catching Jordan comes a brand new contemporary YA you won't forget. The finish line is...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Will Moore has been Missy Jamison’s best friend for years, and until recently, she hadn’t considered going "there" with him...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
From the remarkable imagination of acclaimed artist Jim Di Bartolo and the exquisite pen of bestselling author Kiersten White comes...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In this astonishing memoir, Paige tells a story that is both deeply personal and completely universal—one that will resonate deeply...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
When Penelope the Fox drops her heart into the sea, she’s swept off on a perilous journey, dodging sharks and...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen year old Emma Cartwright leaves her family's rice plantation after a slave is beaten to death. Determined to help...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Fans of Sarah Dessen will love this heartbreaking story about family, loss, and the joys and disappointments of first...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek. One minute Danny was running from...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen-year-old Selena Fallon is a dreamer. Not a daydreamer, but an I-see-the-future kind of dreamer. Normally, this is not a...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Ruff Ruffman is having a bad day. First, his fancy pants get stolen, then he gets a message from his...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Monkey and Elephant are very good friends, very good friends with nothing on the agenda. So they decide to go...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Transformation, empowerment, love and music come together in the book, Beautiful One. Elizabeth Ryan is a beautiful, shy, naïve high...
 
0.0
 
5.0 (2)