Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by: Catherynne M. Valente
Book: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Illustrator: Ana Juan
Released: May 2011
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Purchase: – Barnes & Noble
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.
Just when I thought that children’s fiction had lost that beautiful imaginative wonder that classics like Alice in Wonderland, The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe, and even more recently, Harry Potter had inspired in all who dared to take that literary adventure, a book comes along that proves that creativity is still alive and well in children’s books!
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making is brilliant. This book in thought provoking in ways that on the surface might be missed, but all one needs to do is scratch the surface and be amazed at the talented wordsmith, Catherynne M. Valente. The words the author chose to tell her story will make little minds think and that my friends is a very good thing! In this day and age of instant gratification and entertainment at the touch of our finger tips, I believe it is critical for children to investigate and ponder in order to puzzle things out on their own. In this story, readers get to do just that, but because of the remarkable world and adventures it doesn’t come across as tedious or boring.
Though the story is full of interesting characters, the heroine is truly one that kids would want to be friends with. September is very precocious but underneath her slight strong will is a little girl who has a wonderful heart. There are moments throughout the journey where the child clearly is homesick but doesn’t give up. She perseveres and along the way demonstrates kindness and respect toward others that many would see as outcasts as she stands up for herself and what she believes is right.
This is a story that I read aloud with my eight year old son, each of us taking turns reading different chapters. The whole time we read he would stop and ask questions. He wasn’t content to just sit back and be entertained, he wanted to know more and discover the meanings and motives of various characters. And, isn’t that what we all want out of a reading experience…to be so pulled into the story that we want to discuss it with others? I do.
If you are looking for a children’s book that is not the same old story that has been recycled by countless writers, but is it’s own unique version of classical fiction with new adventures in a whimsical world then look no further–The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is the book for you.
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