Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

July 1, 2013 5 stars, Book Review 10 ★★★★★

Pabkins’ One Liner: An adventure of growing a heart and losing it in the best way.

The Girl who Circumnavigated

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.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a an irresistible frolic of dragon-sized proportions. There wasn’t a page I turned that I didn’t want to share some snippet with a friend or family member. I was constantly saving quotes to the point where I had to stop myself or I would be saving the entire book.  I can only imagine how much more delightful this book will be when I can read it to my child (with all the appropriate voices I imagined of course).

The star of this gem, is a little 12 years old girl named September.  She is quite bored with her daily life when one day she is whisked away by the Green Wind to fairyland. She was quite excited to go and didn’t think much about leaving her life and family behind.

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“September did not even wave good-bye. One ought not to judge her. 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. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one.”
I adored September, she is nothing if not resilient. In so many ways I think she is the model child any parent would wish for. Smart – a true thinker, reserved and so well read! (ablbeit a bit heartless at the outset)


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“It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.”
Just when I thought I couldn’t love this book anymore than I already did – September meets a Wyvery named A-Through-L or Ell for short (he is a Wyvern not a dragon – the distinction being in the legs and toes if I recall correctly??) This is him on his thought’s of Dragons eating people.
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“If people show up to a dragon’s mountain yelling about sacrifices and O, YE, FELL BEAST SPARE MY VILLAGE this and GREAT DRAGON, I SHALL MURDER THEE that, well, certainly, a fellow might have a chomp. But you oughtn’t judge any more than you judge a lady for eating the lovely fresh salad that a waiter brings her in a restaurant.”
I kid you not when I say I could quite literally compose an entire review from nothing but quotes alone but then that might steal the enjoyment from you.  The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making isn’t all fun and games though, its a fairytale that take’s itself seriously.  As well you should also, it is full of trying times, harsh circumstances, and lessons to be learned. It is in turns beautiful and sorrowful a definitely must read for any fairytale lover of the light or dark variety.


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

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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10 Responses to “Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente”

  1. Donna

    This has been on my to-read list for so long! I really need to get to it, those quotes were wonderful and had me sitting here smiling at the computer as I read them.
    On a different note, I’m glad that you were able to successfully transfer your blog from feedburner, I was redirected here from the old feed and have updated your blog in my Feedly.
    Donna recently posted…Guest Post – Karolyn James, Author of the Brothers of Rock seriesMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Marvelous! So glad that the redirection worked! April did such a good job at that!

      If you loved the quotes you should look at my GR reading status updates LOL I had to SERIOUSLY control myself from listing all the quotes in the review that I wanted to put – otherwise it would have been nothing but quotes. It was such an awesome fun read!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      You won’t regret it! It is freaking awesome sauce! I had to control myself from going quote crazy in this review. I think I pulled around 25 of them from the book!