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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland Series #1)

Average Rating 4.5
( 69 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Practically perfect in every way.

Back in 2009, Catherynne M. Valente published Palimpsest. One of that novel's main characters, a woman named November, defines herself by a 1923 novel called The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, one in a series by Hortense Francis Weckweet...
Back in 2009, Catherynne M. Valente published Palimpsest. One of that novel's main characters, a woman named November, defines herself by a 1923 novel called The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, one in a series by Hortense Francis Weckweet about a little girl named September who says "Yes!" (enthusiastic consent, so to speak) to adventuring in fairyland, portal-fantasy style. That book is a through-line in November's story of helping to open up a very adult Fairyland to immigration from our world, and judging from the excerpts Valente provided it sounded delightful, full of whimsy and led by a marvelously spunky narrator.

And it didn't exist.

But one experiment in crowd-funding later, it did. Valente wrote it and posted it online; then it won the Andre Norton Award, leading to a contract with a brick-and-mortar publisher. And that resulted in the book I have in my hands right now. A book which completely satisfies all the promise implied in Palimpsest and which I can easily picture becoming a classic of children's literature.

Keeping true to what was implied about it in Palimpsest, Fairyland is set during WWI and is written in the tone of that era's children's literature. Valente is very much present as the Author, frequently breaking the fourth wall to confide in the reader and foreshadow what is coming next. Like the best in children's literature, she presents a fairyland that is full of wonders (a herd of wild bicycles, a wyvern who is the son of a library, and a little boy who met his mother before she gave birth to him, etc.) but also fraught with dangers -- dangers which our child protagonist can meet, but which push her to her limits and beyond.

It's a fairyland that jives with all our stories of fairylands, and when September stands at a crossroads and has to choose between paths "To lose your way," "To lose your life," "To lose your mind" or "To lose your heart" we know exactly which one she will choose -- and the many, many ways her choice is the worst. We know the rules about not eating fairy food and always moving widdershins, and so does September because she's a bookish child; but keeping with the theme of enthusiastic consent she doesn't let those rules or the very real danger stop her when she has to save her friends. And keeping with a theme that Valente often develops, nothing comes without a price, lacing the happiest moments with poignancy.

This is not my favorite of Valente's novels -- I prefer the gloriously ornate nested structure of The Orphan's Tales -- but it is an excellent place to start with her work, presenting glimpses of her absolutely exquisite prose and her deft hand with myth and folklore in a very accessible, downright conventional narrative. It is also the sort of book that the child I once was would have taken to heart and read to pieces; I hope, therefore, that many children get a chance to discover it and read it to pieces in turn.

posted by PhoenixFalls on May 25, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Book

I have the book and i dont understand it bummer

posted by Anonymous on July 12, 2013

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Practically perfect in every way.

    Back in 2009, Catherynne M. Valente published Palimpsest. One of that novel's main characters, a woman named November, defines herself by a 1923 novel called The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, one in a series by Hortense Francis Weckweet about a little girl named September who says "Yes!" (enthusiastic consent, so to speak) to adventuring in fairyland, portal-fantasy style. That book is a through-line in November's story of helping to open up a very adult Fairyland to immigration from our world, and judging from the excerpts Valente provided it sounded delightful, full of whimsy and led by a marvelously spunky narrator.

    And it didn't exist.

    But one experiment in crowd-funding later, it did. Valente wrote it and posted it online; then it won the Andre Norton Award, leading to a contract with a brick-and-mortar publisher. And that resulted in the book I have in my hands right now. A book which completely satisfies all the promise implied in Palimpsest and which I can easily picture becoming a classic of children's literature.

    Keeping true to what was implied about it in Palimpsest, Fairyland is set during WWI and is written in the tone of that era's children's literature. Valente is very much present as the Author, frequently breaking the fourth wall to confide in the reader and foreshadow what is coming next. Like the best in children's literature, she presents a fairyland that is full of wonders (a herd of wild bicycles, a wyvern who is the son of a library, and a little boy who met his mother before she gave birth to him, etc.) but also fraught with dangers -- dangers which our child protagonist can meet, but which push her to her limits and beyond.

    It's a fairyland that jives with all our stories of fairylands, and when September stands at a crossroads and has to choose between paths "To lose your way," "To lose your life," "To lose your mind" or "To lose your heart" we know exactly which one she will choose -- and the many, many ways her choice is the worst. We know the rules about not eating fairy food and always moving widdershins, and so does September because she's a bookish child; but keeping with the theme of enthusiastic consent she doesn't let those rules or the very real danger stop her when she has to save her friends. And keeping with a theme that Valente often develops, nothing comes without a price, lacing the happiest moments with poignancy.

    This is not my favorite of Valente's novels -- I prefer the gloriously ornate nested structure of The Orphan's Tales -- but it is an excellent place to start with her work, presenting glimpses of her absolutely exquisite prose and her deft hand with myth and folklore in a very accessible, downright conventional narrative. It is also the sort of book that the child I once was would have taken to heart and read to pieces; I hope, therefore, that many children get a chance to discover it and read it to pieces in turn.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Love, Love, Love this book!

    I was super excited when this book arrived in my mailbox. I absolutely love the cover to this book. It's a beautiful jewel toned red with a picture of a dragon chained up and a girl with a huge key. This is a beautiful cover for the book.
    I had watched the book trailer a few weeks back and it piqued my interest. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making takes place during World War II. Summer's dad gets shipped off to be a soldier while her mother works in a factory building airplane engines. Summer is utterly bored with life when the Green Wind comes to take her away on an adventure to Fairyland. Summer is eager to leave her home and her life behind with little thought.
    I think this book is brilliant. I absolutely love the storyline. It has the unpredictability of Alice in Wonderland. I had no idea which way the story was headed. It also has an extraordinary cast of characters that are unforgettable. Summer is the main character in this story. She's an average twelve year old with a not so average destiny. I liked her character because she is vulnerable but wise. Along her journey she makes unusual friends but also has to learn things such as sacrifice, humility, loyalty, and perseverance to get her through Fairyland.
    Overall this book is perfect for people of all ages. I would not have a problem with my kids reading this and I would even recommend it to my mother. I can't sing this books praises enough. I'm going to go as far as to say it is on my top ten favorite books this year. This is Catherynne Valente first children's novel. I really hope she writes more of them.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Book

    I have the book and i dont understand it bummer

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2012

    Amazing whimsical tale

    This book is so original it's a shame to compare it to anything else, but it reminds me delicously of everything quirky I love in Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. It's just gorgeously written; I think adults wilk savor the language and enjoy September's adventures as much as children. You can't help but love September. She loves orange because it can't be ignored. She wants to adopt an orange parrot and feed it orange marmalade and butterscotch and everything orange...how could you not love such a heroine? Highly recommend!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    ¿The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Mak

    “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making” by, Catherynne Valente

    Twelve-year-old September can’t help but long for adventure, so when she’s invited to go to Fairyland she doesn’t think twice before accepting. September journeys into Fairyland with the Green Wind and a Leopard, but she meets many more friends along the way. When September finds out that Fairyland is in danger she and her friends have to find a way to save it.

    I just have to start by saying that Catherynne Valente is a brilliant author and I am in love with her stories. Put those stories together with the utterly captivating illustrations by Ana Juan and you get a book that will delight and fascinate everyone who reads it.
    Reading about September, Saturday (A Marid), A-through-L (The Wyverary), and all the other remarkable characters that populate this book was like spending hours in one of my favorite dreams. The messages of love, friendship, and bravery seamlessly woven within the pages warmed my heart. “The girl who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own making” is a book that begs to be read over and over again. Needless to say, I absolutely and completely loved it and I am so excited to start the second book in the series “The girl who fell beneath Fairyland and led the revels there”.
    Here is just one of my favorite passages, enjoy…
    “When you are born, your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once in a while, you have to scrub it up and get the works going or else you’ll never be brave again.”

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great book!

    This is such a great book for readers of all ages to read! Filled with adventure and great fantasy, you a driven into a world of no other. A world were rules are different, names are unique, and well, something you will never forget.




    First off, the story line. Absolutely amazing! I loved it! Once I got into the book, I knew it was going to be mind blowing. The story line is rightly paced, lots of meeting of new people, new places, and just pure fun read. Another thing I enjoyed were the names. Hello and Goodbye, Saturday, etc. Such unique names for a creative world. Nothing like I ever heard of and really enjoyed. I kept laughing at the names of people September kept coming by. She think she was wrong but then she figured out that, that was their name. HILARIOUS!




    What I also like about this book is the strong lead character, September. She is nothing short of a little girl. She learn the rules fast, and even made sacrifices where she didn't have too. She is an extraordinary young lady that completely blew me away.




    One thing for sure is that I can't wait to read this book to my son when he gets older. Adventure, fantasy, weird places and characters is something that all children can enjoy. Your mind is taken away by the great writing and easy description of the places that September visits. I too, plan on visiting Fairyland, where my mind can escape and finally be free!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2012

    Pure magic

    This book is glorious. I highly recommend it to anyone, young or old, looking for a bit of whimsy to brighten their day.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Great imaginative fun!

    This book was full of whimey.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Imaginative New World!

    When I had the opportunity to read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, I was so excited, because it reminded me of stories I would've read as a kid. I enjoyed it for the most part, but sometimes I was a bit frazzled trying to get through a chapter due to such imaginative descriptions.

    The writing and detailed descriptions are beautiful. But, I'm not sure younger readers would understand half of what is going on. So needless to say you need a wonderfully bright imagination to read this book, which is a fantastic thing to bring out in anyone. Just be prepared for very interesting creatures and happenings.

    I loved September. She never gave up and she stuck with what she believed in. The Wyvern, named A-through-L, was so sweet and such a great supporting character. He stuck by September and had all the qualities of a true friend.

    September and A-through-L's adventures were so grand and epic. Fairyland was definitely a fascinating place to visit and read about. Valente has wonderful world building talent and I wouldn't miss book two for the world!

    Oh and I can't forget to mention the beautiful illustrations this book has. They are so great and give you an insight to what each chapter gets into. I really enjoyed them!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    Amazing

    One of my new favorite books. A classic fairy tale told in a modern voice. The joy of adventure and friendship with a twist of melancholy. Perfect for those who love Wonderland and Neverland and Narnia and Fantasia.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2012

    PLEASE READ!

    If u love adventure books, this one is pefect for you. Not too long nor too short. I read this for a grapic organizer in reading class. A girl named September is invited to Fairyland by the green wind and the lepord of the little breezes. On September's way, she meets a book loving dragon and a boy named Saturday. To find out more, read the book! This book is SO worth the money. ;))

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    AMAZING

    This book is full of adventure and excitement. With quirky characters and an interesting plotline, your sure to love it :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    I love it

    So i love it so much

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2014

    I like the book

    Love

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  • Posted November 5, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    An Interestingly Endless Adventure ¿The Girl Who Circumnavigate

    An Interestingly Endless Adventure

    “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making” is the first book in a fantasy series about a girl named September and her adventures in a magical place called Fairyland. In this book, it is September’s first time visiting Fairyland, and all is not well, as Fairyland is under rule of the evil Marquess. September came to Fairyland looking for adventure and ended up in a battle to return Fairyland to its former glory. Along the way September meets a kind Wyvern, A through L, and a loyal Marid, Saturday. September learns the value of perseverance, loyalty and the strength of friendship.

    For me, the style of writing is too cumbersome and takes me away from the enjoyment of the fantasy. In addition, I found the details of September’s struggle to survive too gruesome. Other readers, however, may enjoy this book because it takes place in a mythical land that most of us have probably dreamed of and portrays a heroine that we can see ourselves as. I have read the first two books in the series. I would highly recommend reading them in order, and wish that I had read them in order. This book is ideal for girls ages 9-14, however, the vocabulary can be challenging.

    Calli T., Age 12, GLAAM

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2014

    I really enjoyed this

    I read this to my eight year old daughter, and we both loved it. It's both wise and imaginative, and was refreshingly original to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Fun for the young and the young at heart!

    I wanted to get a really good summer read for my great niece for her birthday, and this is it! I enjoyed every page and will look forward to reading more in this series. Hope that she feels the same!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2014

    The Girl Who Curcumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

    Its very good. Who would expect the Marquess to be Good Queen Mallow?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2014

    Jazmyne johnson

    Boring

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2014

    Anyone who is a fan of fairyland adventures should read this boo

    Anyone who is a fan of fairyland adventures should read this book. It reminds me of all of the books I loved to read growing up - and still enjoy today - The Chronicles of Narnia, The Wizard of Oz series, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The author takes September on an adventure that challenges what she believes about herself and how the world works. The writing is superb; whimsical, satisfying, descriptive prose that makes me wish I was Ravished, too. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

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