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

by Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrator)

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1,525None4,804 (4.21)240
Member:CurrerBell
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
Rating:***
Tags:37

Work details

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

2011 (23) adventure (59) children (23) children's (56) children's fiction (13) children's literature (20) dragons (32) ebook (21) faerie (21) fairies (44) fairy tale (27) fairy tales (75) fairyland (37) fantasy (367) fiction (152) goodreads (16) Kindle (17) magic (21) middle grade (15) novel (23) quest (15) read (18) series (17) sff (12) signed (14) to-read (139) unread (14) wishlist (12) YA (69) young adult (81)
  1. 120
    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. 90
    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
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  12. 32
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    lorax: Both are beautifully written fairy tales about young people traveling to another world, readable by kids but with much for adults to enjoy.
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  19. 00
    The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente (LBV123)
  20. 00
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(see all 24 recommendations)

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» See also 240 mentions

English (138)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (140)
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

September’s father has gone off to war and her mother works all day building airplane engines while September stays home and washes the china teacups. Life in Omaha is disappointingly dull for such an imaginative and adventurous (and heartless!) 12-year old girl... until the day September looks out the kitchen window to see the Green Wind perched on his flying leopard and beckoning her to Fairyland.

There are many wonders to see in Fairyland: witches, werewolves, fairies, flying bicycles, animated furniture, spriggans, glashtyn, marids, a fabric city, a golem molded from soap, and a red wyverary (a wyvern whose father is a municipal library). If you have read Catherynne Valente before, you can imagine the kinds of wonderful creatures you’ll meet in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making... or, actually, maybe you can’t!)

But all is not as it should be in Fairyland. The Marquess, who’s only a child, is quite the little tyrant, and she’s got a job for September. During her quest, September explores Fairyland and learns a lot about courage, honor, friendship, and love.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is Catherynne Valente’s first young adult novel and, as Valente fans will expect, it’s gorgeous in every way. The story is fun and the characters and plot will appeal to children, but this book goes far beyond most modern children’s fantasy literature. It’s most comparable to Alice in Wonderland; Like Lewis Carroll’s classic, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is intelligent, beautifully written, packed with imagination, and full of thoughtful and charming ideas (often pointed out by the delightfully intrusive narrator) that give depth and charisma and make this children’s story more than easily-forgotten entertainment:

* All children are heartless. They have not grown a heart 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. But, as in their reading and arithmetic and drawing, different children proceed at different speeds. (It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.)
* Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. That is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.
* As all mothers know, children travel faster than kisses. The speed of kisses is, in fact, what Dr. Fallow would call a cosmic constant. The speed of children has no limits.

I listened to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making on audio (Brilliance Audio). It was read by Ms. Valente herself and, though she is not a voice actor and didn’t give each character a unique and distinguishable voice, she was quite pleasant. I like hearing an author interpret her own work as long as she has an agreeable voice and prosody, which Ms. Valente does. My only issue with the audio version is that I missed Ana Juan’s lovely art that introduces each chapter in the print version. Oh, audiobook publishers, why can’t we have the art, too? ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
I am at a loss on how to rate this book but feel as another reviewer stated "in my heart I want to give it 5 stars". I do believe you need to be in just the right mood to read this one and if you are - then you are in for quite an adventure and a treat. It is sometimes like other books you may have read (think Alice in Wonderland, Oz etc) but at the same time it is NOTHING like anything you have read. The writing style is what really caught my attention. The characters are wonderful and so is the narration. It reads very personal/intimate between you and the narrator at times. A really unique read. ( )
  dms02 | Feb 27, 2014 |
I think you have to be a fan of Alice and Narnia and the Phantom Tollbooth to love this book. You have to love word play, imagination, and darkly sly commentary from the storyteller. You have to love a world that's coolly unsentimental while wildly rich at the same time. It was lovely, dark and more than a little scary. It will horrify people who are hate books for young people with blood in it, where the ending is less than perfectly happy.

The author strolls about this fantastical world, showing us its wonders, without rushing us to what happened next. I love that the author respects her audience enough to not just give us another pink-fairy-unicorn-princess-in-fairyland book--heaven knows there are already enough pedestrian watered-down Narnia likenesses out there. You had to PAY ATTENTION to what was going on.

The main character did remind me of Alice in Wonderland, though September was far less at the mercy of her environment. She reminds me, too, of Tiffany Aching in Terry Pratchett's books--an independent girl who recognizes that life is rarely fair. ( )
  Turrean | Feb 15, 2014 |
It's going to be hard to describe this book. At first I was not sure I was feeling the love and came close to ditching it. I kept on because it is the winner of the Andre Norton Award and comes highly recommended by Neil Gaiman. Boy am I glad I kept reading on! because this book is all kinds of wonderful rolled up into one. Think Alice in Wonderland, Spiderwick Chronicles with some Narnia thrown in there and voilà! Still I am falling short because this book has it's unique voice.
Here we meet September, who is whisked away by the Green Wind and his leopard to Fairyland. When she arrives, she decides to take a quest and sets on her way, meeting all sorts of characters, places and situations beyond our imagination.
There isn't a single page in this book that isn't filled with magic and unbelievable wonder. This is a book for all ages to be read over and over again. ( )
  AleAleta | Feb 8, 2014 |
This book was Awesome with an capital A. I read a chapter or two and then I was completely hooked. Great writing, great imagination and just a pure joy to read.

So many favorite parts I could quote... but let's go for this description on how witches can see the future.

"You see, the future is a kind of stew, a soup, a vichyssoise of the present and the past. That’s how you get the future: you mix up everything you did today with everything you did yesterday, and all the days before, and everything anyone you ever met did, and anyone they ever met, too. And salt, and lizard, and pearl and umbrellas and typewriters and a lot of other things I’m not at liberty to tell you… …if you mash it all up together and you have a big enough pot and you’re very good at witchcraft, you can wind up with a cauldron full of tomorrow." ( )
  bishopza | Feb 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 138 (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
Catherynne M. Valenteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Juan, AnaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valente, Catherynne M.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Dedication
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.

Quotations
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.

(Carnophile)

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

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)

» see all 6 descriptions

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