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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
2,2831812,795 (4.14)285
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. 161
    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (aarti, calmclam)
  2. 150
    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. 140
    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. 102
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (foggidawn)
  5. 71
    Coraline by Neil Gaiman (foggidawn)
  6. 72
    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.
  7. 50
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (ErisofDiscord)
  8. 40
    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. 30
    The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
  10. 30
    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. 30
    Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog by Ysabeau S. Wilce (macsbrains)
  12. 30
    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.
  13. 10
    The Nex by Tim Pratt (TomWaitsTables)
  14. 10
    Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley (baseballbabe)
  15. 10
    Dragonfly by Frederic S. Durbin (jessinfl)
  16. 00
    The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker (PhoenixFalls)
  17. 00
    Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie (amanda4242)
  18. 00
    The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu (AlexDraven)
  19. 00
    Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi (aethercowboy)
  20. 11
    The Book of Lost Things: A Novel by John Connolly (jessinfl)

(see all 26 recommendations)


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» See also 285 mentions

English (179)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  All (181)
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
A delightful and whimsical tale! ( )
  ladykat | May 15, 2017 |
Definitely NOT (just) for children. Powerful story that accurately yet entertainingly and coherently tracks so many of the "old stories." You know, the ones that stuck around. Because they mean something. The author has a shipload of insight - I learned much from this read. About Life, The Universe and Everything...

Fans of Clarissa Pinkola-Estes are in for a treat!

As for the writing style? Entire unique in my experience. The poetic sing-song nature of it kept my brain in such a dream state, it was difficult sometimes to stay physically awake. I'd drift off and THE STORY WOULD KEEP GOING... When my DH would ask what I kept snoring over - I'd grab a coffee and let him know, "Don't worry, it's just the literary LSD again."

I'm nearly done with Book 2 and it's special as well. ( )
1 vote kbosso | May 2, 2017 |
I got the audio of this book because I was driving a lot for work and needed something interesting to listen to. I chose this book because it was read by the author and because it's a children's fantasy so I thought that would be nice and easy to follow, not too much heartache and maybe I could listen to it when babysitting as well.

This book ruined me.

This book was not nice nor void of heartache.

Catherynne M Valente writes lyrical prose in a way that makes me hesitant to recommend hard copy over audio. It's not just pleasing to hear but the story is enchanting. I was completely captivated by September and her Wyverary A-through-L. Through Fairyland, Valente explains life on earth in metaphorical truths that are beautiful to read and painful to understand.

As I neared the end of the book I remember pulling into my parking spot and thinking it must be almost over. I could see the end in my mind where everything ended perfectly. I spend the next two hours sitting in my car on the verge of tears. This book breaks your heart and puts it back together. It still works fine but it hurts just a little more when it beats. ( )
1 vote PageswithPengu | Apr 27, 2017 |
I really thought I'd like this book, but it was just altogether too much. Too many adjectives, too many obscure creatures from fantasy and folklore, and too much whimsy. Whew! It's exhausting. I prefer my fantasy to have a strong thread of realistic fiction.
( )
  ebein | Mar 27, 2017 |
A great book, very much in the spirit of much of the classic fantasy that has come before it. The plot is intentionally reminiscent of many different traditional and modern fantasy stories, a classic take on the hero's quest that does a good job of knowing when and how to twist the elements and with more than enough cleverness to amuse and entice.
The personal themes brought up in the book deal with the importance of friendship but also the necessity of dealing with some things on your own. Societally the book deals with the question of order vs freedom and what should the balance within society be when some people want more freedom and some people want more order. ( )
1 vote Dipodomy | Nov 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 179 (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)

» see all 8 descriptions

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