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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)

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2,1621773,005 (4.16)280
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

Work details

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

  1. 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
  2. 151
    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (aarti, calmclam)
  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 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
    Dragonfly by Frederic S. Durbin (jessinfl)
  14. 10
    Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley (baseballbabe)
  15. 10
    The Nex by Tim Pratt (TomWaitsTables)
  16. 00
    The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu (AlexDraven)
  17. 00
    Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi (aethercowboy)
  18. 00
    Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie (amanda4242)
  19. 00
    The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker (PhoenixFalls)
  20. 11
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (jessinfl)

(see all 26 recommendations)


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» See also 280 mentions

English (174)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (176)
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
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.

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 | Oct 20, 2016 |
Showed a great deal of promise but I didn't feel like it delivered. Similar in tone to the Flora Segunda books but less adventurous. ( )
  kale.dyer | Oct 12, 2016 |
Books of this nature face a heritage of clichés they are forced to mould themselves to and the tired familiarity of treading that path where only the window dressing differs. There will be cute play-on-words, quirky beings met, companions weak but stalwart, villains powerful but comedic and fatally flawed, etc. and it will all be sugar sweet and occasionally amusing. As the girl in question, September at least shows some awareness of this as a fan of fairy tales herself, and she has no mission in mind until she takes one up in the belief that this is how things are done. A key ingredient that is missing is the quest to return home, an omission worth paying attention to. Also, it is not all sugar on this outing: there will be blood.

This novel doesn't particularly break the mold and even boldly echoes the plot of Oz, but it wears a nice gloss and it doesn't cross any fatal lines. The narrator's asides and commentary punctuate the story with wise and knowing observations spiced with a hint of foreshadowing. There are the usual lessons about maturity, developing a sense of compassion, etc. I very much like the ending (heavy-handed groundwork for a sequel aside), which cast a better light on the novel as a whole and made me feel it had been worth reading. There should have been stronger hints towards that end sprinkled earlier, to tremble my assumptions. Mostly to entertain myself in the meantime, I began reading September as someone accustomed to indulging in escapism only to discover that realities lurk in even the farthest corners of dreams, like a reader who finds epiphany and will henceforth read for more than just the story. Maybe not something the author was going for, but I think it's there. ( )
2 vote Cecrow | Oct 3, 2016 |
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, illustrated by Ana Juan There was so much to love here!

The narrative style is just perfect. It was done similar to the way the Great Gatsby is narrated except that the tone was much more upbeat and playful. The tone was more like Flynn Ryder telling his kids the story about how he met Rapunzel in Tangled.
The beginning is set during WWII and that's central to September's outlook on life, and some other aspects of her character.
The story felt like the first time I saw Alice in Wonderland. Everything was strange and wonderful and made sense in it's own way. It was also full of little bits of wisdom the way that Alice in Wonderland is. I have to read the original one day...
Heartlessness and growing a heart is dealt with in an interesting way here.
She says yes to adventure, she doesn't just happen upon it.

I'm probably going to read this to (or with) my son one day when he's into chapter books. I personally believe in saying yes to adventure and wanting to find obstacles to overcome, rather than waiting for things to happen to you. ( )
  Calavari | Sep 28, 2016 |
I was so excited when I picked up this book from the library - I have read wonderful reviews about it and the cover and premise are spectacular. I am sad to say that this was not my favorite book - I did enjoy it but found a lot of the plot bogged down by too much detail and fancy wording.

September is a special girl, one that has the chance to be whisked off into fairyland and have the adventure of her lifetime. She gets to meet a dragon, make friends with creatures that only exist in fairy tales, defeat an evil Marquess. This book had the makings of a wonderfully epic fantasy. I enjoyed September as a main character but with all that detail there wasn't much to really draw me in to make me really root for her - I found myself with her rooting against this crazy rule-making Marquess instead. The adventures were reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and Halloweentown from the Nightmare Before Christmas all rolled into on - so they felt like stories I had heard before.

One last point, I really kept feeling like this was written for adults and not a middle grade reader, there were a few passages that just seemed for parents or adults, and even I felt like I had to dig my way through the book to get to the good parts.

That being said, there was a wonderful twist in the last few chapters and a great cliffhanger ending. While I don't think I will continue the series, the ending did make me stop and think I wanted to for a moment.
( )
  sszkutak | Sep 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (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.


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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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