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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 2012)

by Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrator)

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1,7761583,953 (4.18)261
Member:PhysiCaRollMops
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
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

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. 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.
  3. 120
    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. 61
    Coraline by Neil Gaiman (foggidawn)
  6. 30
    The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (ErisofDiscord)
  7. 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.
  8. 42
    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.
  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
    The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
  11. 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.
  12. 10
    Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley (baseballbabe)
  13. 10
    Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce (macsbrains)
  14. 10
    The Nex by Tim Pratt (TomWaitsTables)
  15. 00
    The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker (PhoenixFalls)
  16. 00
    The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu (AlexDraven)
  17. 11
    Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (MickyFine)
  18. 00
    Dragonfly by Frederic S. Durbin (jessinfl)
  19. 00
    The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente (LBV123)
  20. 00
    The Order of Odd-Fish by James Kennedy (kaledrina)

(see all 24 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)
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 |
This C21st Alice/Oz series is so well-loved that anything less than five full stars feels as if it requires an apology. I'm sorry. I think I'm too cynical to like this as much as some do. I don't often read new children's books, and this reminds me why that's a good thing. I get on better with something darker and more morally complicated, or maybe just more drily phrased. It's not as if people I know who love this book are devoid of a sense of twee: their and my parameters for what separates 'sweet' from 'twee' must simply be in slightly different places.

The descriptive language is as if the florid gardens of Dorian Gray are being reconstructed in pastel-coloured sugar-icing, embedded with mini cupcakes and marshmallows and non-alcoholic cocktails in cute china teacups, by people who are very nice, possibly too nice, and exhaustingly chatty. (We are told at the beginning that September dislikes pastel teacups, but the book itself has the tone of one thoroughly at home with them.) Though I can appreciate why some people might like this sort of thing - I do like camp after all.

Nevertheless, some favourite things here include: the sentient smoking jacket (many fans want a Wyverary; I'd plump for one of these instead); the gorgeous-sounding food; the soap-golem and her baths which act as a particularly efficient psychotherapy; and (preachy to some - identification here) September having little choice but to kill the fish and needing to be forgiven for it. It was surprising that September seemed to be from the 1940s [dad at war, mum working in munitions factory... but OTOH then why would a mum with mechanical skills be so rare?] I really liked the not-a-big-deal unconventional relationships among many of the characters, but as I was reading in the light of a recent blog post by the author, I did find a few other points overly preachy and goody-goody.

Hearing other people delight in this series turns out to be more enjoyable than reading it myself. Though I won't rule out vol.2 seeing as I've already got it, thanks to the 2013 Kindle sale binge which keeps on giving.

--

Oh dear. This C21st Alice/Oz series is so very well liked that anything less than five full stars requires an apology. I'm sorry. I'm a little too cynical and disappointed and angry inside to love this as much as some do. I don't often read new children's books: since the first couple of Harry Potters, I've known full well that the enjoyment some of you get from them is an ability I don't have; somewhere I'm still the kid who lacked a deep love for soft toys when small, and tried to hide that, and who unilaterally decided to stopped watching children's TV before starting secondary school and never regretted it.

I like the general shapes of Fairyland's plot and characters - including the not-a-big-deal unconventional relationships among plenty of them* - but the telling is sometimes on the wrong side of the twee / sweet divide, and it can be a bit uncomplicatedly goody-goody. (A hero/ine who wrestled with themselves about whether to fight the traumatised Marid for some wishes - probably concluding in asking for some for the greater good and for the benefit of the Marid - would have been more interesting. And a recent blog post by the author had put me on the lookout for preachiness, so naturally I found it in a few places; though I can see how one might not without being primed. )

The descriptive language is as if the proliferating, out-of-season nature of Dorian Gray is being reconstructed in pastel-coloured sugar-icing, embedded with mini cupcakes and non-alcoholic cocktails in cutesy china teacups, by people who are very nice, possibly too nice, and exhaustingly chatty. (We are told at the beginning that September dislikes pastel teacups, but the book itself has the tone of one thoroughly at home with them.) I can appreciate that people might like this, although it's not exactly my kind of thing.

It has its moments: particular favourites include the sentient green smoking jacket (many people want a Wyverary; I'd prefer one of these); the delicious-sounding food; the soap-golem and her baths which act as psychotherapy; and (preachy to some - identification here) September needing to kill the fish and be forgiven for it. It was surprising that September seemed to be from the 1940s [dad at war, mum working in munitions factory], not now as expected.

Hearing other people delight in this book turns out to be more enjoyable than reading it myself. Though I won't rule out vol.2 seeing as I've already got it. (Thanks to the 2013 Kindle sale binge which keeps on giving.)

* Saw this recently via a review in my feed. Think it's a bit premature and naive, c.f. 'hang on, most of the country isn't post-racial yet'. Some of the commenters have sense (I'm guessing most of those are older than the writer and/or have lived and worked outside big city academia and the arts).

done with questioning things ( )
1 vote antonomasia | May 7, 2015 |
I picked this book up from the public library on the strength of a review read here on LibraryThing. I invited my 10-year-old daughter to read it with me, with the hope that we could read it aloud at a chapter per day, alternating reader duties. It turned out her stamina was not really enough to read an entire chapter aloud at a sitting, but she would at least start the even-numbered chapters in our reading.

The story is full of homages to Oz, Narnia, Wonderland, and other elseworlds of children's fantasy, the book is clearly marketed to children (or at most "young adult" readers), and the children's section of the public library is where I found it. But the narrator addresses the reader as a grownup peer, and there is a lot for adults to enjoy in this story.

The protagonist September is twelve years old, and she is "ravished" from Omaha, Nebraska to Fairyland by a fellow named the Green Wind. Once there, she accumulates some loyal companions as she finds herself pitted against the Marquess, the despot currently ruling the realm.

There is a very explicit opening for sequels at the end of the tale, along with some rather surprising teases regarding unfinished business. We may take a breather, but I hope my daughter will be up for another of these later.
3 vote paradoxosalpha | May 4, 2015 |
This story was at times dark and all over wonderful. I am glad I took the time to read it and am eagerly anticipating the next chapter of the story. I must say I fell in love with all the characters, except maybe the Marquess, though after the revelations at the end I do feel for here. Fairyland is an exciting and sometimes scary world and I can't wait to go back.


Read With Me: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making ( )
  bookjunkie57 | Apr 17, 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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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)

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(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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