Reviews for Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Booklist Reviews 2011 April #2
*Starred Review* When the Green Wind offers to whisk young September from her dull home in Nebraska off to Fairyland, she jumps at the chance and onto his flying leopard. Once in Fairyland (a self-aware mashup of surreal otherworlds from Wonderland to Oz to Neverland), she makes fast friends with a wyverary (the offspring of a dragon and a library); runs afoul of the wicked little girl Marquess, who rules the land with tyrannical poutiness; and traipses about in a loosely plotted series of merry, harrowing, and just plain weird adventures. September herself is a standard-issue fairy-tale fish out of water, ever flummoxed and begging pardon but given to sharp outbursts of pluck in pluckworthy situations. The setting, however, fairly bursts at the seams with darkness, wonder, and oodles of imaginative quirks, while Valente's busy and at times intrusive narration is thick, thorny, and stylistically vigorous. Chapters are headed by Juan's dreamy, stubby-figured drawings and a wry look forward ("In Which September Enters the Worsted Wood, Loses All Her Hair, Meets Her Death, and Sings It to Sleep"). The rich, dense vocabulary presents some tricky footing, but for readers like September, who "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," this book is quite simply a gold mine. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
BookPage Reviews 2011 May
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. Copyright 2011 BookPage Reviews.
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.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Twelve-year-old September, tired of her middle-class WWII-era existence in Omaha, seizes the opportunity to explore Fairyland. She loses her shadow and her heart, meets her own Death, and rides a wild velocipede. When September finally confronts the tyrannical Marquess, she learns some harsh truths. Readers will find the wonderfully bizarre world of Fairyland and September herself compelling. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #3
When the Green Wind (a dapper gentleman clothed head to toe in green) appears at her kitchen window, twelve-year-old September, tired of her middle-class WWII-era existence in Omaha, seizes the opportunity to explore Fairyland. September and the Green Wind are soon separated, but he keeps benevolent watch over her from afar as she befriends a Wyvern and a djinni-like Marid, loses her shadow and her heart, meets her own Death, and rides a wild velocipede. When September finally confronts the tyrannical Marquess, who has severely curtailed the magic of Fairyland, she learns some harsh truths about Fairyland, home, and growing up. The plot occasionally stalls on philosophical tangents ("All children are heartless. They have not grown a heart 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"), but readers will find the wonderfully bizarre world of Fairyland and September herself compelling enough to persevere. Part fairy tale, part Wizard of Oz, with the narrative style of Victorian storytellers and a splash of steampunk, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland (previously published online and winner of the 2009 Andre Norton Award) is by turns amusing, wrenching, and thought-provoking. katie bircher Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2011 April #1
In this modern fairytale, an insouciant, "somewhat heartless" 12-year-old girl from Omaha visits Fairyland and accepts a quest to rescue its inhabitants from the rule-mad Marquess. September's father's in the army, and her mother works a factory shift. When the Green Wind arrives at her kitchen window and invites her to Fairyland, the "ill-tempered and irascible" September eagerly accepts. Soon she's flying on the back of the Leopard of Little Breezes, while Green Wind warns her she may be "ticketed or executed, depending on the mood of the Marquess," if she tramples on any rules. Also, she must be prepared to make sacrifices and she must never tell her true name. After solving a puzzle, September passes into Fairyland, encounters myriad fantastical creatures and meets her soon-to-be helpers, a red dragonlike Wyvern and a blue jinnlike Marid. When the Marquess co-opts her to retrieve a magical sword from the deadly Worsted Wood and holds the Wyvern and Marid hostage, September sacrifices everything to save her friends. 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.Â (Fantasy. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2011 October
Twelve-year-old September leads an ordinary life until the day the Green Wind appears to her and offers her the opportunity for an adventure and to help out in Fairyland. It seems as if the new Marquess is an unfortunate choice for a ruler. September must obtain the talisman from the enchanted woods and if she doesn't the Marquess has promised to make life difficult for the inhabitants of Fairyland. Thus, her adventure begins. As September romps through Fairyland she makes friends with a boy named Saturday and a book-loving Wyvern. Each chapter begins with a short description of what September will encounter, a clever way of foretelling the future. The dialogue and vocabulary is both thought-provoking and stimulating. It is a book that makes readers think and stretch their imagination. This charming, well-written story will be most popular with students who love a great adventure combined with magic. Karen Scott, Librarian, Thompson Middle School, Alabaster, Alabama. RECOMMENDED ¬ 2011 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 March #2
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) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2011 May
Gr 4-8--Once upon a time in Omaha, NE, a child named September is visited by the Green Wind and spirited away to Fairyland on the back of the Leopard of Little Breezes. Things are not going well in Fairyland, where the evil Marquess holds sway. She asks September to retrieve an item for her from the autumn lands, where there is "always cider and pumpkin pie...and it is always Halloween." September is hesitant to aid the Marquess in her plans for Fairyland, but the offer provides her an opportunity to help friends she has met on her journey. While this book is written in a sophisticated, adult storyteller's voice, with many asides directed at (presumably adult) readers ("you must remember from your own adventuring days how harsh a task lies before her..."), there is no denying that it possesses a surfeit of imagination. Along the way September meets a bookish Wyvern, a herd of wild bicycles, and even pieces of 100-year-old household furniture that can think and act for themselves. Think The Phantom Tollbooth (Random, 1961) crossed with The Wizard of Oz infused with the absurdity of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Does this book rise to the level of a classic in the same way as these three books? Perhaps not, but the payoff, when all is revealed, will give readers an immense degree of satisfaction. Juan's black-and-white illustrations appear as headings for each chapter and nicely convey the strange and dreamlike quality of the proceedings. Having previously been published online, and having already won a couple of major awards, this book should have a built-in audience.--Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO [Page 125]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2011 June
Alice in Wonderland meets The Phantom Tollbooth in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making. September is a thirteen-year-old girl living a lonely life when the Green Wind invites her on an adventure which takes her to Fairyland. September is befriended by a Wyvern, a boy named Saturday, a lantern, and a key. She must undertake a quest from a very fickle and cruel Marquess in order to help all the inhabitants of Fairyland. The journey is filled with intrigue and many challenges along the way. September proves herself not only a courageous young girl, but a very caring, intelligent one as well. The illustrations are whimsical and fit perfectly with the story This is a book for the true fantasy fan as the reader is transported to another land where everything is different from the inhabitants (witches, wairwulfs, and a soap golem) to the setting (Pandemonium City, Worsted Wood, and Lonely Gaol). In this strange land one has to listen carefully to truly understand what is being said as the characters almost speak in riddles most of the time. While it is extremely well-written, it is definitely not for the reader with a weak vocabulary, or one who is looking for a very straightforward plot. This book will appeal to an advanced reader waiting to escape reality and enter a true Fairyland.-- Lona Trulove 4Q 3P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.