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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 2012)

by Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,8111583,860 (4.17)261
Title:The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Authors:Catherynne M. Valente
Other authors:Ana Juan (Illustrator)
Info:Square Fish (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:2011, Fiction, SF, YA

Work details

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

  1. 140
    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (aarti, calmclam)
  2. 130
    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
  3. 120
    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.
  4. 82
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  5. 61
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  6. 40
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  7. 52
    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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 20
    The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
  12. 10
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  17. 11
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  19. 11
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (jessinfl)
  20. 00
    The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente (LBV123)

(see all 25 recommendations)


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» See also 261 mentions

English (155)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
4.5 stars. Everything I love about younger fantasy with lots of whimsy, a bit of danger, a beautiful world, and so much fun to read!

Full review at:
( )
  anyaejo | Aug 12, 2015 |
Read it in one day. Here's a review complete with gifs: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1124310076


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!} UPDATE: I've since got the fourth book, desperately waiting for the fifth and final book to come out 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.

This is not just a fairytale. It is a thinking book, full of philosophies and morals and deep thoughts and mythologies that you've never heard of, pain, anger and revenge all wrapped up in a pretty package. That isn't to say it doesn't have any pleasant moments, surely. It is not all bad. There are characters to cry for and eccentric characters that claim your heart. Moments to laugh. Extraordinarily glorious places. Valentes beautiful prose guides you along, our black haired narrator sneaking in sometimes to whisper secrets in our ear that are unknown to our heroine, September, who's plight through the book make you want nothing less than to see her succeed.

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 | Aug 6, 2015 |
This book left me speechless. Granted, my world is held up by the supports of narratives like Fairyland, and so September became very dear to me. It is stellar. It is stunning. It wrests the Fairy Tale from the maw of Walt Disney and places back firmly in the darkened forest of teeth. This is not just a "tale", it says something about tales, it has a point of view about their weight and their influence. She presents us with a strong able heroine, without resorting to the (altogether bloody *boring*) idea of Gender-Role-Reversal, and without the obligatory (often annoying) "sassiness".

I liked this book so much I don't even want to recommend it to everyone. Because I don't want to have a conversation about how you didn't like it, if you don't.

But still. Buy it. Read it. Give it to friends. There's a reason this book is on the bestseller list. ( )
1 vote aliceoddcabinet | Jul 25, 2015 |
A wonderful book in every way -- for adults, and children, and adults who secretly know they are really children, and children who know they are secretly adults, and to read to yourself or aloud or have read to you -- seriously, in every way. Thank you daughter and son-in-law for giving me this book for Christmas. It made me smile a lot. ( )
1 vote Phyllis.Mann | Jul 13, 2015 |
I'm really conflicted about this book.

On the one hand, it has so many things I like - a mash-up of fairy tale tropes, lovely prose, an examination of what makes a story, a self-consciousness reminiscent of "The Last Unicorn" - really, this should join the ranks of my favorite books of all time.

On the other hand, I was bored through most of the book. Or confused. Mostly, I was just impatient for it to be over, and I'm still not quite sure why. Perhaps it's because a lot of the book felt more like a series of events than an actual storyline with a plot. But even once the book started to have some profound moments about what it means to participate in a story, and what it means to long for home, and how love is a strong force that can overcome anything, I inexplicably wasn't interested. Maybe it's because the book still fails to do anything tremendously original with these tropes.

It has actually taken me several weeks to write this review, because I just can't conjure up an opinion about this book. But I think it says something that several weeks later, I don't look back wistfully on the book, nor do I have any interest in its sequels. The only reason the book is still on my mind is that it is bugging me that I can't book my finger on why this was such a failure for me.

Perhaps the fact that I listened to the audiobook doesn't help. It is read by the author, and there are very few authors who are also good readers (Neil Gaiman is the only one I can think of). Valente isn't bad, but she's definitely not an actress, and I think another narrator could have conveyed the book's sense of wide-eyed magic better. ( )
  Gwendydd | Jun 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (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.

(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)

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