Thursday, August 18, 2011

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

I loved that title until I had to type it out. Anyway, if you are at all a fan of books that straddle the divide between poetry and prose, I suggest that you read Catherynne Valente’s books for adults immediately. I am particularly fond of In the Night Garden, Book 1 of The Orphan’s Tales. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland… is her first book for children. Ignore the age recommendation, it’s perfectly wonderful for adults too.

Encapsulate This

I am going to lift the synopsis from the book jacket because I am finding it difficult to summarize without ruining the magic. Because seriously, this book is magic.

“September is a girl who longs for adventure. When she is invited to Fairyland by a Green Wind and a Leopard, well, of course she accepts (Mightn’t you?). But Fairyland is in turmoil, and it will take one twelve-year-old girl, a book-loving dragon, and a strange and almost human boy named Saturday to vanquish an evil Marquess and restore order.”

Ruminate on That

I think what I love best about this story is the calm acceptance of whatever-may-be that September has. Of course the Green Wind has come to take her to Fairyland. And of course, she meets a Wyvern whose father is a library. She decides to do something, and then she just does it. That’s one of my favorite aspects of fairytales. There isn’t a lot of excuse-making.

I don’t really have an objective opinion here. I just love the hell out of this book. The writing style, the story itself, the lovely illustrations, pretty much everything made me happy. The only (slightly) low point for me was the villain’s motivation. It was the weakest point of the story. However, the ending made up for it. It ended concretely, but with lots of space to imagine the future. I hugged the book when I finished it. And if it hadn’t been 11:00 p.m., I probably would have read it again (I did that the next day instead).

Final Reckoning

Should you read this? ABSOLUTELY. Actually, you should buy it. But buy the hardcover, this is definitely one of those books that are better in print than they are in digital.

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


  1. Sorry, did you seriously just say someone's father was a library? I can't get past that sentence.

  2. Yes, the Wyvern's father is a library. The Wyvern's name is A-through-L.