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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)

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1,7311554,084 (4.19)258
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)

Recently added bykat_nap48, private library, Dehinde, iamjonlarson, Arkanator, zlmc, galxygrlldykngt, etborg
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    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. 110
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    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.
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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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» See also 258 mentions

English (149)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (151)
Showing 1-5 of 149 (next | show all)
Both lyrical and quirky, the writing in this book is beautiful; it will make you want to find someone who will sit and let you read it aloud. The narrative voice is impeccable, possessing a certain wonderful drollery that makes this book so difficult to put down--even when you have reached the end!

Catherynne Valente's story is exquisitely whimsical, a charming fairy tale for the modern world, with just the right mixture of Alice and Oz. This book is practically perfect: it has the feel of a classic and will appeal to all ages.
( )
  etborg | Mar 21, 2015 |
It's a book that shares more in common with Discworld books than Alice In Wonderland. It's something that I regret. The book also feels like the middle of a series. I didn't understand what happened to the Marquess. She seemed alive but nothing is sure in Fairyland. I simply did not care about the characters, alright? Like with most books that seem to cheat, it was again a case of a weak effort that kind of redeems itself with a strong finish. My disappointment with books, and my inability to find pleasure in reading is not the only factor in me not being impressed with The Girl Who[...]. The adventures are bland and nonsensical. The author makes her heroine, September, suffer, but there's a complete lack of tension. I rated this 3 stars because of the twists at the end, and the really beautiful language. That's the best I can muster. I recommend this book to children who have not read Lewis Carroll and the Narnia books and The Hobbit. I'm curious about the sequel to The Girl Who. But I need to read something not experimental for the moment. I need comfort food for thought. ( )
  Jiraiya | Mar 21, 2015 |
What a joy this was to pick up again! I have two and three thanks to my aunt Sabrina, so I wanted to marathon this series, as the fourth is coming out near my birthday in March 2015 {fingers crossed for a square shaped gift next year!}

This is a perfect stay in bed sick book. a perfect curl up in your reading nook during rain/snow book. a perfect everything book. A practically perfect adult fairytale disguised as a quirky children's book--it enfolds you into its world, not gracefully, but rather violently {whenever I had to get up for something, my room felt strange, as though it didn't exist, I had to shake myself a few times} though you shan't refuse such a wondrous and strange world ...as gory as a Grimm, as mad as a hatter world.

How satisfying it was to read this final note before I shut the book slowly, eager for the second and yet, ending so perfectly. "All stories must end so, with the next tale winking out of the corners of the last pages, promising more, promising moonlight and dancing and revels, if only you will come back when spring comes again."

( )
  ShyPageSniffer | Feb 4, 2015 |
I am reading this as slowly as I possibly can. Savouring each paragraph, loving the freah hit to my imagination, feeling like a child again: wacthing a new world emerge in my head. There are herds of migrating bicycles, snarky good advice and lots of little things to chuckle at.
I can't wait for my children to be old enough to discover this for themselves. ( )
  littlel | Dec 8, 2014 |
This is such a fantastic book, the title alone made me desperate to read it and the rest of the series too!


The story follows a young girl named September as she lives her every day boring life but is swept away into fairyland. She meets wonderful new creatures and embarks on an adventure. But the leader of fairyland – the marquess is not all that she seems. The marquess demands September collect a magical object for her deep in the woods, or the marquess will do terrible things to the new friends she has made. And so, September journeys on to find the talisman and save the residents of fairyland.


This book appeared on my Goodreads timeline, with someone else having just started reading it. On hearing the title “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making” I instantly had to find out more. It’s a beautiful title with an especially beautiful cover, in fact all the books in the series – there’s currently two more and another few on the way! – have incredibly clever titles and beautiful covers. Beautiful is perhaps the best way to describe Catherynne M Valente’s work. The language is lovely, and the illustrations – drawn by Ana Juan – that grace the chapter pages just make it an incredibly wonderful read. It’s intelligent without being heavy reading, the writing is clever without being overly pretentious. I flew through the book in a matter of days as I just could not get enough.

The book is aimed at children/young adults but it’s perfect for anyone of any age who enjoys a good read. It’s light hearted, the characters are beautifully imagined. My personal favourite being the wyverary A-through-L. A creature that is part wyvern and part library. The book has a very Alice in Wonderland feel to it, as well as sometimes reminding me of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, perhaps with regards to the narrator that occasionally pops his head in.

The story is in essence, a coming of age story, but it’s told in a highly imaginative, original way. It can be funny, silly and clever all in a single page. I definitely recommend this one for anyone who might be looking for something on the lighter side, or someone who’s just looking for something a bit different. ( )
  ColeReadsBooks | Oct 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 149 (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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