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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  24,728 Ratings  ·  4,180 Reviews
This is a kind of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by way of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland -- it's the sort of book one doesn't want to end." -- Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review 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 tak ...more
Audiobook, Digital Download, Unabridged, 6 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Brilliance Audio
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Leanne I feel exactly the same - am about to start the second in the series.

A much darker fairytale that I would also recommend is The Book of Lost Things by…more
I feel exactly the same - am about to start the second in the series.

A much darker fairytale that I would also recommend is The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. I was also lost in that story and it has lingered with me long after reading.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I walked into the bookstore in a bit of a mood.

Wait, that's my Midwestern nature talking. We tend to understate. The truth is I walked into the bookstore furious at the world. I can't remember why. I am prone to dark moods, and when I'm in the middle of one, I tend to rumble through the world like an angry old-testament god.

I went directly to the Sci-Fi Fantasy section. That's where I live for the most part. That's where I go when the world gets to be too much for me.

I looked at the titles. I
WINNER: BESTest, BRILLIANTest, most EXCELLENTest, YA Novel in HistorYA!!!

I know, I know, that comes as a bit of a shocker, what with Potter, Percy and those Hunger Gamers running from all those Sparkly Emos and bumping into Bartimaeus hiding inside His Dark Materials waiting for some Giver of an Abhorsen to find their Wrinkle in Time to send them all back to Wonderland. Not to mention that AMAZO Genesis I read earlier this year (sorry I couldn't work it in above).

However, despite all of those
Apr 23, 2012 Nataliya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like intelligent YA fantasy
Recommended to Nataliya by: Catie

My favorite thing about this book is, of course, Wyverary A-Through-L. What's a wyverary, you ask? Well, when a wyvern and a library love each other very very much......blush... you know the spiel.

But do I sense some skepticism, my cynical friends? Do you maybe insist on thinking there is an infinitely more prosaic explanation for the existence of Wyverary, an alphabetizing-loving fire-breathing half-library? Let him rebuke your doubt
Richard Derus
Oct 11, 2013 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This 5* review has been moved to Shelf Inflicted.

It's superb, jaw-dropping writing. I'll be very surprised if this isn't a lot of people's favorite childhood read in the year 2040. (Which I hope to be around to see.)
Oct 12, 2011 Catie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catie by: Crowinator
I am generally one for simple, blunt truth. My brain doesn’t like to decipher complex and ornate metaphors and I hate reading through layer upon layer of language. I’m usually just waiting for the author to get to the point. But then, something like this comes along and just makes me question everything that I thought I knew about myself. The writing here is highly imaginative and odd and funny and a bit absurd. It’s descriptive and clever and maybe occasionally just a bit fussy. But, all this s ...more
mark monday
growing up, i loved the Oz books (the Baum ones, at least). i read all of them multiple times - i think there are 14 or so - and have enjoyed rereading them here and there as an adult. i love how the fancifulness and frequent absurdity of Baum's creations are anchored down by prosaic reality. i love their no-nonsense child heroines (and occasional heroes) - precocious but never precious, cute but never cutesy-poo. i love the transparency of Baum's prose, the layering of meaning and metaphor, the ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Carol. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of wardrobes, YA fans
The first two pages and I'm in love.

It's going on the "must buy" list, as well as the "must give" list.

The Girl sets all fairy tale conventions on their heads while managing to retain the spirit and charm of the best. In the tradition of the door-in-the-hedge fantasy, the trip through the closet into Fairyland is inventive and whimsical. Valente perhaps pokes fun at times, but always gently: "you will either perish most painfully or be forced to sit through a very tedious tea service with sever
Jan 04, 2012 Krystle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
This book just wasn't for me. The writing style is so different, so whimsical, so fancy, that I can tell the author had a lot of fun stretching her vocabulary to the utmost and rolling around and playing in it till it came out in wonderfully wrapped paragraphs and pages. But I just didn't like it. There are so much things I had to remember, keep track of, and all that stuff that I just got so lost and became disinterested.

Don't get me wrong, the world building is creative and all sorts of fabulo
May 31, 2011 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well devil if I know what to do with it.

Never complain that you are bored, ladies and gentlemen. Say such a thing and you might find that the universe has a couple tricks up its sleeve. Let's say, for example, that a certain children's librarian was getting bored with the state of fantasy today. Maybe she read too many Narnia rip-offs where a group of siblings is plunged into an alternate world to defeat a big bad blah blah blah. Maybe she read too many quest novels where plucky young girls have
The Holy Terror
Feb 19, 2012 The Holy Terror rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wendy Darling, fans of Liesl & Po and children's books with deeper meanings
It's hard to express in words just how lovely this book is, well, in my words that is; Valente's words are beyond magical.
She certainly did not see Death stand on her tip-toes and blow a kiss after her, a kiss that rushed through all the frosted leaves of the autumnal forest but could not quite catch a child running as fast as she could. As all mothers know, children travel faster than kisses. The speed of kisses is, in fact, what Doctor Fallow would call a cosmic constant. The speed of children
Jan 02, 2016 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is easily one of the most delightful and magical YA titles I've ever read.

I know people do like to compare it to Alice in Wonderland, but in a lot of ways, it's better. There's more than a basketful of clever, more than a truckload of beautiful language, and a whole ocean of delight.

The darkness doesn't overwhelm and there's no overt or subtle religious messages. A lot happens, but it's friendship that carries the final day.

I'm going to be reading this to my daughter when she is a little o
The Library Lady
Sep 08, 2011 The Library Lady rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dolores Umbridge
There is an audience for this sort of thing among the sort of fully grown women who grew up reading George MacDonald, Frank Baum, James Barrie and all the other sentimental, precious fiction of an earlier era. And perhaps some of today's 21st century girls will grow up to be part of that audience.

Sorry fans, this is too derivative and too damn "twee" for me, and once more I am pissed off at librarians and other reviewers who review for the child in themselves rather than for the child actually s
May 27, 2016 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I found this picture some time ago but had no idea how fitting it would be for this review (the text as well as the little girl pictured)! :D

In fact, I only decided to buy and read this book because of Brad's raving review and the fact that I was able to get it for my Kindle for just 99 Cents! Sometimes it really does seem as if some books were meant to be with me and are willing to do anything to make that happen!

Anyway, this is the story of a girl called September who lives in Omaha and wishes
May 30, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who can think young
Recommended to Jim by: Catie and Nataliya
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”
― Albert Einstein

In the normal scheme of things, I would have read this “children’s book”* first, as my introduction to the amazing writing of Catherynne Valente. But because this physical book
Sep 02, 2012 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, favorites

Consider this fair warning: I'm writing a squee review ,
as I think Catherynne Valente is the "bee's knees" when it comes to funny, modern, beautifully written fairytales that can appeal to children and adults in equal measure. Compared to The Orphan Tales , the adventures of the girl September in Fairyland are straightforward and easier to follow, without the frequent jumps from one storyteller to another, while maintaining the emotional intensity and the lyrical prose that first attracted m
Jan 24, 2016 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book definitely took me a LONG WHILE to get into. It was a 3 star book up until the last few chapters. I loved the imagination and the emphasis on important things like engineering, problem solving, and bravery!
At first I didn't love it because 1) overhyped and 2) the writing. It felt really pretentious at first but once I got used to it and kind of accepted it in an Alice in Wonderland sort of way it was more enjoyable! I was meh on the book as a whole until those last few chapters and th
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
Reading Catherynne M. Valente is a unique experience. Her writing is full of magic and imagination. It doesn't always make 'sense', but it feels right. The child in me who never grew up, who loves fairy tales, lands of magic, mythical creatures, and folklore, ate up this story like the most scrumptious dessert. I listened to this on audio, and at first, I wasn't sure how well it would work. There are a lot of concepts, and they don't tie together in a straightforward fashion at first glance. If ...more
I am a bit sad that I cannot rave about this book as so many others are doing (including two of my heroes, Patrick Rothfuss and Neil Gaiman). I just liked it a normal amount. The story was sweet, the writing was good, it had charm but it never grabbed me totally and it did not stay with me after I put it down. So a good book but not a brilliant one for me.
Feb 06, 2016 Adriana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adriana by: Luisina
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is the incredible, complex fairytale I never had growing up.

This book has all the stunning imagination and easy whimsy of classic fairytale adventures like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Phantom Tollbooth. And like those stories, it sprinkles invaluable pieces of wisdom between the hero/ine's wild adventures, but there's also something more. Fairyland complicates the traditional adventure narrative even further because there are also underpinnings
Ian Grayejoy
To Embrace or Turn Away?

“It would have been so much easier to stay in that unhappiness. But like September, I had to say yes to a more extraordinary world, no matter how frightening it was…

“I wanted to create a book about saying yes to magic, about seeing a new way of living and embracing it instead of turning away…

“When I was quite little, maybe four or five, my mom woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to put my bathing suit on. We went outside, and laid in lawn chairs under the fu

I have not encountered a YA fantasy novel this good since I read the classic tales as a child. Those being the The Chronicles of Narnia,The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Watership Down, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Phantom Tollbooth and Charlotte's Web to name a few. That's pretty much most of them with the exception of say The Story of Doctor Dolittle, The Jungle Book or Stuart Little for instance but this story has little similarity to those. No instead this
Jubilation Lee
It was always sort of a black mark on my Personal Reading List that I had somehow managed to evade The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, and now I am bemoaning all those wasted days when I could have had it in my life, because my God but this was a super entertaining novel.

So September, a totally ordinary girl with a bit of a temper, living in the middle of BFN Omaha during World War II, gets the change to hop on the back of a flying leopard and race away with the G
Feb 14, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: mark monday
For some weird reason I read a few pages towards the end of this book when i had only just started to read it's beginning. I have no idea why i did because i never normally do but in a strange way this seems, having read the whole thing now, to have been the right thing. I knew the denouement of the story as a result and was in a position to see a fuller picture to a certain extent but at the same time I did not know what i knew. (I went to the Donald Rumsfeld school of reviewing)

Once I reached
T.D. Whittle
I bought this book as a gift for my very young nieces, only to realise that I had misjudged the appropriate readership by about six years. So, I decided to read it myself, and I loved it. It's brimming with the same lush imagery and sensual delights that one finds in Valente's adult novels, amidst all the Fairyland glimmer, glamour, and ghastliness specific to this children's tale.

In both Valente's adult novels and this one, her imagined worlds are equal parts terrifying and beautiful, with acc
This is such a lovely book! It has that old Victorian fairy tale feeling. It gives off the vibe of Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz or other classic fantasy tales I read when I was a child and can't remember their names. It has a random kind of absurdity along with childlike wonder.

The story is unique, and so imaginative even in the smallest details. I loved the little touches like the soap lady. Valente's writing is beautiful and evocative. I can still see many scenes clearly in my head. She
Karly *The Vampire Ninja & Luminescent Monster*

Fangirling Helena Bonham Carter - Style!

** The Rambling Review **

Those five stars up there ^^ they mean I loved this book!! And I loved this book, let me tell you....

The MC, September, is amazing! Valente smacked the nail right on the head there, September is fun and endearing without being preachy or annoying AT ALL!

to you Ms. Valente!!

If this doesn't become the new to-read middle grade series I will be shocked, shocked I say! (It may already be, actually) This has all the makings of a child
I love when I finish a book smiling.
I don't know if you recall my oohing and ahhing and general freaking-outing over the trailer for this book when it popped up last year. For realsies, I lost my mind over it. I still sometimes just watch it on repeat until I've had my fill of the quirky, artistic gloriously creative fantasticness that is this trailer (and the song!!). And now that I've read the book, I like the song from the trailer EVEN MORE. I didn't think that was possible, but it's so perfe
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This book makes me want to draw all sorts of whimsical art for you, but time being short and all, I'll just have to post some pics. Reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is kind of like this:


and this:

with a little of this:


This is a fantasy in the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz/The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tradition, where a young girl goes to a magical land and tries to Right What's Wrong.

Twelve year old September, bored with her life and washing pink-and-yellow teacups and dealin
Stephanie (Stepping out of the Page)
I've been trying hard to put off this review, or rather, trying hard to think how to rate and review it - it's been very difficult for me. I think that the only thing I can do is say it outright - this is a truly fantastic book, but it's just something that I just couldn't get away with. If I had to rate my enjoyment of this book, it'd be around 2 stars, but if I had to rate the quality of the book, I can honestly say that it'd probably be around 4 or 5 stars.

This book is set in Fairyland and it
May 01, 2014 Jareed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Also posted on my blog: i'mbookedindefinitely

“Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.”
― George Bernard Shaw

I love reading, and I want my future children, and my future children’s children to love it too. I cannot however, just as any form or object of love, force them to love it too, what I can do however is guide them in learning to love it, by helping them sort through the millions of books out there, directing them to the good ones, to the really really go
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Catherynne M. Valente was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1979 in Seattle, WA, but grew up in in the wheatgrass paradise of Northern California. She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics. She then drifted away from her M.A. program and into a long residence in the concrete and cam ...more
More about Catherynne M. Valente...

Other Books in the Series

Fairyland (5 books)
  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2)
  • The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland, #3)
  • The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (Fairyland, #4)
  • The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (Fairyland, #5)

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“She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.” 690 likes
“It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.” 510 likes
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