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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a…

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (original 2009; edition 2011)

by Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,6241474,462 (4.19)247
Title:The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Authors:Catherynne M. Valente
Other authors:Ana Juan (Illustrator)
Info:Feiwel & Friends (2011), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, Read, Boxed

Work details

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (2009)

  1. 130
    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (aarti, calmclam)
  2. 110
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman (aarti, Jannes, rakerman)
    Jannes: Gaiman might be inspired by Dunsany and Mirrlees while Valente leans slightly more toward Carroll and Baum, but both of them are modern authors tackling the classic fairytale, both are great stylists, and both books are highly enjoyable.
    rakerman: Stardust is also a modern fairy tale, but I found it to be a much stronger book. The flow of chapter by chapter standalone encounters in The Girl was light and entertaining but for me had a weaker narrative flow than in Stardust.
  3. 100
    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (kaledrina, Crumble_Tumble)
    Crumble_Tumble: Both of these fantasy tales are a bit out there, a little crazy, a little hard to undestand. But once you get it, it's amazing. I LOVE these kinds of books
  4. 82
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (foggidawn)
  5. 51
    Coraline by Neil Gaiman (foggidawn)
  6. 30
    Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente (Jannes)
    Jannes: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland was first concieved in Palimpsest as one of the protaginists' favourite book. Then it sort got a life of it's own, so to speak. Palimpsest is probably not for children, though.
  7. 20
    The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
  8. 20
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (clfisha)
    clfisha: Its not a fairytale but if your looking for more inventive, rich and dark YA try this.
  9. 20
    At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald (rakerman)
    rakerman: Wind spirits play an important role in both The Girl and At the Back of the North Wind. The books both have aspects of wonder and sorrow, with a similar idea of a child taken away into a magical land.
  10. 20
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (ErisofDiscord)
  11. 10
    Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley (baseballbabe)
  12. 32
    Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie (lorax)
    lorax: Both are beautifully written fairy tales about young people traveling to another world, readable by kids but with much for adults to enjoy.
  13. 10
    Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce (macsbrains)
  14. 10
    The Nex by Tim Pratt (one-horse.library)
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    The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker (PhoenixFalls)
  16. 00
    The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu (AlexDraven)
  17. 11
    Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (MickyFine)
  18. 00
    Dragonfly by Frederic S. Durbin (jessinfl)
  19. 00
    The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente (LBV123)
  20. 00
    The Order of Odd-Fish by James Kennedy (kaledrina)

(see all 24 recommendations)


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» See also 247 mentions

English (144)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (146)
Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)
Wow! I love this book! It is officially on my favorite books list!! If you love Alice in Wonderland (or even didn’t like I did) you will adore this book. It is similar to Alice in Wonderland and has that same peculiarity about it, but I found the characters and the story much more enjoyable. It has all the makings of a great fairy-tale!

I have to admit that I had a hard time beginning the novel since it was really strange and was filled with nonsense, which is what I didn’t like about other books written like this. This book is just filled with things that are very weird; almost too strange for me. However, I stuck with it for a couple of chapters and became hooked! I loved the story and how it moved at just the right speed after the first couple chapters. There were some peculiar and amazing things that happened to September that will keep you interested until the very end. It was also hilarious in some parts too! I found myself laughing when I read about A-Through-L, and the Velocipedes. I think even people who find that they really like Alice in Wonderland may just like this even more.

I adored all the characters in this story! Who wouldn’t love to have A-Through-L as a traveling companion? He is a hilarious wyverary; half library, half wyvern who loves books, wants to become a librarian, and believes his father to be a library! He also knows lots of things but only if they start with A-L. So funny! There are many more enjoyable characters throughout the story that are just as silly as this wyverary and you will love them all! I thought the characters were very well developed and interesting, and I can’t say that I have any complaints about them. Amazing set of characters in an amazingly engrossing story!

There wasn’t an overabundance of detail throughout the story. It focused more on the characters rather than the setting, but there was still plenty of information to paint a picture. For a young adult novel (or even children) it was perfectly detailed in my opinion. Also, since there are more books in this series I am sure we will learn even more about the world of Fairyland and its inhabitants.

I thought the novel was beautifully written, and easy to understand. There were also some parts of the story that children wont understand (don’t need too) that are funny for adults. This story just begs to be read aloud! Oh! I can’t forget to mention that the drawings which begin each chapter are beautifully done as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and felt that it is a perfect book for any child (even though its a young adult novel) who enjoys fantasy stories. I could go on and on about how each character was amazing and tell you all about them, but I think one was enough. The joy I got out of reading the book was discovering all these characters for myself. If you love fantasy stories and feel like reading something a little strange and funny, then you will most definitely enjoy this book! I can’t wait to read the other books in this series! Don’t worry though because this book can easily stand alone.

( )
  AshleyMiller | Sep 10, 2014 |
Just wasn't the time for me to read this one I guess. I couldn't get into it.
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
Oh my goodness. I love this book so much I'm going to have to do a youtube review about it too.

I think what I loved most about the book was that the writing style and theme of the book read like a cross between two of my favorite books, The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland. In fact, the author (who writes directly to the reader at times -- just like C.S Lewis did!) references both books, in an off-hand sort of manner. It's easy to miss the reference, if you don't pay close attention. Many times, I caught myself reading quickly (cause it's a good book), and a character would say something, and I'd have to stop myself, go back and read it again, to be sure that I just read a reference to one of my favorite books!

The characters are whimsical, and seem to make no sense at all, but they represent very clear and real ideas that we face each day of our lives. I like books that can present seemingly nonsensical characters and dialog, so that, the average reader might roll their eyes, but a reader who thrives on symbolism and metaphors will jump for joy when they discover the meaning behind the characters, dialog, setting and plot-line. ( )
  glanecia | Aug 2, 2014 |
A little girl named September is spirited away to Fairyland by the Green Wind and a flying leopard. Once there, she meets a well-read Wyvern (who’s father was a library) and a blue boy named Saturday. A nasty Marquess (with a nice hat) has ousted the lovely queen of Fairyland and taken over.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is absolutely, one hundred percent delightful. Told in an elegant, polished pseudo-Victorian style, it is still somehow thoroughly modern and fresh and wonderful in every way. It belongs on the shelf alongside Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, L. Frank Baum’s Oz series and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter . . . it is, in short, a classic.

It reminded me most strongly of the Oz books, although Valente manages to be less scattered, while losing none of the inventiveness or whimsy. The plotting is tighter and more satisfying than the Oz series, but it is still full to the absolute brim with magic. There are wondrous new impossible things on every page, cities made of living cloth, towns made of baked bread and fairy tale creatures of all shapes and sorts.

I loved this book. I would curl up and live inside of its pages if I could. This is definitely one book that I am holding on to (I give most of my books away after I read them) maybe one day there will be a child in my life I can share it with. Even if not, it is still a book I can see re-reading for my own pleasure again and again. ( )
  catfantastic | Jul 17, 2014 |
I decided to read this since I had heard lots of great things about it. It was serialized on the web and it shows by the story structure. I thought it was ok but the interior illustrations were really a high point to the book for me. I don't think I will bother with the next book when it does come out though.
( )
  Glennis.LeBlanc | Jul 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)
I won’t lie. Some folks do NOT like this book, and I can understand why that is. For me, though, this is just one of the smarter juxtapositions of the fantastical with the tongue-twisted. Here you have an author who clearly enjoys writing. And if that enjoyment seeps through the page and into the reader’s perceptions, then here is a book that they’ll clearly enjoy reading. A true original and like nothing you’ve really ever seen before.
added by PhoenixFalls | editSchool Library Journal (Jun 1, 2011)
Told by an omniscient narrator who directly engages readers, the densely textured text deftly mixes and matches familiar fairytale elements, creating a world as bizarre and enchanting as any Wonderland or Oz and a heroine as curious, resourceful and brave as any Alice or Dorothy. Complex, rich and memorable.
added by melonbrawl | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 1, 2011)
The book's appeal is crystal clear from the outset: this is a kind of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by way of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, made vivid by Juan's Tenniel-inflected illustrations.
added by PhoenixFalls | editPublisher's Weekly (Mar 14, 2011)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Valente, Catherynne M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Juan, AnaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For all those who walked this strange road with me,
and held out their hands when I faltered.
This is a ship of our own making.
First words
Chapter 1

Exeunt on a Leopard
In Which a Girl Named September Is Spirited Off by Means of a Leopard, Learns the Rules of Fairyland, and Solves a Puzzle

Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents' house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog.

One ought not judge: All children are heartless. They have not grown up yet, which is why they can climb tall trees and say shocking things and leap so very high that grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one.

Hats have power. They can change you into someone else.

When one is traveling, everything looks brighter and lovelier. That does not mean it is brighter and lovelier; it just means that sweet, kindly home suffers in comparison to tarted-up foreign places with all their jewels on.

Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.
In September's world, many things began with pan. Pandemic, Pangaea, Panacea, Panoply. These were all big words, to be sure, but as has been said, September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
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.

[retrieved from Amazon, 8/2/2012]
Haiku summary
Fairyland has rules.
Magical, but uncaring.
Like laws of physics.


No descriptions found.

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Twelve-year-old September's ordinary life in Omaha turns to adventure when a Green Wind takes her to Fairyland to retrieve a talisman the new and fickle Marquess wants from the enchanted woods.

(summary from another edition)

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