Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 10 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 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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  • 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 September 19, 2013

    Nice children's book

    The story takes its time to build up, but after a few chapters it develops its rhythm and it is a good story with a strong female character at the center

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    ???

    Should i get it is it worth the money?

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2011

    Wonderful!

    Reminicent of Oz, magical & engaging.

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    Posted December 23, 2012

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    Posted December 31, 2011

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    Posted November 27, 2012

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