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

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making September is a very bored little girl. Her father has shipped off to war and her mother is raising her alone. Her mother works all day repairing engines in a factory. They live in Nebraska, where there is nothing for a little girl like September to do. She wishes endlessly to be taken off to Fairyland like so many bored children before her. One day, while she is washing teacups, that wish comes true and September gets a visit from the Green Wind, riding on the Leopard of Little Breezes. They take her away to Fairyland, where she has the most amazing adventures.

The characters in this book are so unavoidably likable, despite their faults. September is repeatedly called heartless, but we know she isn’t. She is sometimes said to be selfish, but she is nowhere near it. Even the villain is likable in her ability to be such a fantastic fairy tale villain. Sure, she’s an evil ruler, but she’s just a kid. An angry one at that. Of course the friends September makes along the way are the most wonderful friends anyone could ever hope to make. There's A-through-L, a Wyvern and Saturday, a marid, and of course Gleam, a kind-hearted paper lantern.

Valente is an exceptional writer. She creates a Fairyland that is both familiar and fantastically strange. Her imagination has run wild all over the pages of this book, and it’s a really, really mind-blowing imagination. It’s not often that a writer can create a world so complete and easy to visualize. Her descriptions are lush and vivid, even describing colors in more depth than I thought was possible. It helps that she loves some of the same things that I do, like autumn and pumpkins and green smoking jackets, which she spends extra time applying her loving pen to. Her vocabulary is luscious and so needed in books for young readers.

It’s impossible for me to write this review without pointing out the obvious fact that female characters like September are so needed in children’s literature. September is an amazing little girl. She makes friends easily and defends them without a thought. She literally travels to the ends of the earth (without shoes, no less) to save them, and she does it alone. She is willing to sacrifice everything for them. There’s no annoying underlying romance to it, as there is in other popular kids books. It also helps that September is being raised by wrench-wielding, do-it-yourself mother, though we get only get small pieces of the woman she is. September doesn't get her strength from anyone but herself, which, like most of us, she has to learn along the way.

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making By Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781250010193
Availability: IN WAREHOUSE - Usually Ships in 3-7 Business Days
Published: Square Fish - May 8th, 2012