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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente and Ana Juan

Overview -

"One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century."--Time magazine, on the Fairyland series
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.  Read more...


 
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More About The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente; Ana Juan
 
 
 
Overview

"One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century."--Time magazine, on the Fairyland series
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 author Catherynne M. Valente 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. "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" is a "Publishers Weekly" Best Children's Fiction title for 2011.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780312649616
  • ISBN-10: 0312649614
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
  • Publish Date: May 2011
  • Page Count: 247
  • Reading Level: Ages 10-14


Related Categories

Books > Juvenile Fiction > Fantasy & Magic
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Action & Adventure - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-03-14
  • Reviewer: Staff

Originally published in serialized form online (where it became the first e-book to win the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy), this glittering confection is Valente's first work for young readers. 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. An omniscient narrator relates the absurd Fairyland adventures of 12-year-old September from Omaha, Neb. Valente seems more interested in crafting the individual episodes, and her narrator's moral observations thereon, than in September's overall quest to retrieve a witch's spoon from the terrible marquess of Fairyland. Homages abound—an echo of Tolkien here, a cameo by Lord Dunsany there, and a nod for Hayao Miyazaki, too, all without feeling derivative. It's an allusive playground for adults, but even though young readers won't catch every reference, those who thrill to lovingly wrought tales of fantasy and adventure (think McCaughrean or DiCamillo) will be enchanted. And though the pace is lackadaisical, it's just as well—it's the sort of book one doesn't want to end. Ages 10–14. (May)

 
BookPage Reviews

An ordinary September on a remarkable journey

In the barest sense, this is a fantasy book with all the elements you might expect, but as any happy reader knows, it is not the story that makes the book so much as how it is written. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a mouthful of a title, but the prose throughout this book is wonderful—a “mouthful” in the most satisfying sense. Award-winning author Catherynne M. Valente writes beautifully with a rich and deep vocabulary that is every bit as enjoyable as the plot of the story.

September, the 12-year-old protagonist, is a perfectly ordinary girl, bored with her perfectly ordinary life, who eagerly accepts the offer of the Green Wind to bear her away to Fairyland. Here she meets the creatures you would expect (witches, fairies, pookas) as well as many original ones, including a wyverary (a wyvern whose father is a library). In her quest for a witch’s stolen spoon, she is also sent by the evil Marquess to bring back a magical sword that only September can retrieve.

September wonders at one point if she is in a merry tale or a serious one, but the narrator cautions us that “no one may know the shape of the tale in which they move.” However, she will learn that the choices she makes have everything to do with how her life will unfold. When September first arrives in the land of Fairy, she sees signposts directing her to lose her way, lose her life, lose her mind or lose her heart. She chooses (sensibly, considering) to follow the path where she will lose her heart, and, as a reader, you will lose your heart as well as you revel in Valente’s writing. Recommend this book to advanced readers in middle school. They will appreciate the challenge and love the story.

 
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