The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Div 2 and up
Published: May 10, 2011
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
5 out of 5 stars
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a middle grade novel that falls in line with classics like Peter Pan and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. September is a twelve year old girl from Omaha who is Ravished to Fairlyand by the Green Wind. She makes friends, and enemies, and loses her heart along the way. This book was beautifully written, and would make for an excellent read-aloud, whether in a classroom, or in a bedtime routine.
But no one may know the shape of the tale in which they move. And, perhaps, we do not truly know what sort of beast it is, either. Stories have a way of changing faces.
I found the narration in this book to be really interesting. It was very similar to Peter Pan, in that our narrator would pause to make comments on the progress of events, as well as the nature of certain characters. This breaking of the fourth wall proved to be very charming.
While there was a clear over-arching plot, the chapters themselves were quite episodic, which is one reason why I feel like this book would work so well read aloud. September’s journey through Fairyland feels a little bit like Alice’s travels through wonderland — each task and location feels quite isolated and self-contained, and what connects it all is the dream-like fantastical nature of it all. What connects a witch’s need for her spoon, a wyvern with a library for a father, and a herd of wild bicycles? Well, nothing, really. Except that they all exist in September’s fairyland.
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.
This book became an instant classic for me. It almost immediately became one of my favourite books, and I cannot wait to share this story with my future children (students? nieces? nephews? neighbourhood children?).