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

(Fairyland #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  43,437 ratings  ·  5,588 reviews
Gather up your courage and your wishes; grab a little pinch of luck - and prepare to be swept away, in a ship of your own making, to a land unlike any other. September is a twelve-year-old girl, Somewhat Grown and Somewhat Heartless, and she longs for adventure. So when a Green Wind and a Leopard of Little Breezes invite her to Fairyland - well, of course, she accepts (mig ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published June 7th 2012 by Corsair (first published May 10th 2011)
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Morgan Nikola-Wren Hey Christina,

As someone who fell so hard for the first book that I have a tattoo referencing it on my foot, I felt honor-bound to answer this questi…more
Hey Christina,

As someone who fell so hard for the first book that I have a tattoo referencing it on my foot, I felt honor-bound to answer this question. ;)

I found myself utterly and beautifully lost in all the rest of the books in the Fairyland series. Granted, I too, was worried that the sequels could not live up to the olden standard the first set for me, but as soon as I opened the second book and found myself greeted by the lemony narrator, I felt like I had been reunited with an old friend. The following four books serve to expound upon so many of the themes introduced in the original. And the short story prequel, The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland...But Only for a Little While, had me crying at the end, and then reading it aloud to my husband, because he just needed to know the story that badly. Also, if it's worth anything, I often don't finish all the books in a series. (No. Not even Narnia.) I'll like the first and maybe the next well enough, but I often get the feeling that the author is stretching things too far and my interest gets lost. So, I think that should count for something.

Hope this is helpful...Though, I just looked and saw you posted this question two years ago.


PS: If you're still looking for additional, arresting reading material with a fairy tale lean, I loved Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane so much that I took it to a wedding...and spent most of the reception reading it.

PPS: The tattoo is the glass orb with a leaf in it that The Green Wind gives to September. Because, my gosh, THAT WELL SCENE!(less)
Cassandra I would give it to every 12-year-old who reads that you know, but otherwise I reckon 8-108 would like it. When I first read this series I was nearly a…moreI would give it to every 12-year-old who reads that you know, but otherwise I reckon 8-108 would like it. When I first read this series I was nearly always the same age as September at the time as the books came out, and that was realllllly cool.(less)

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Start your review of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)
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 th

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
Jun 15, 2011 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
Caz (littlebookowl)
Rating: 3.5 stars

This was so imaginative and whimsical, it is certainly a fun read with wonderful characters. I found it to lag a little in the middle, so it a slower read despite the length of the book.
Richard Derus
Dec 08, 2012 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.)
Apr 12, 2011 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
Aug 13, 2011 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
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This is a portal 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 dealing with mostly-absent parents, gets talked into a trip to Fairyland by the Green Wind, who settles her into the saddle of his flying leopard and whisks her away to new adventures. Because--like most children--September is mor
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
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
Peter Topside
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really am not a huge fan of fantasy novels like this. However, I think it was written very well and the level of creativity was astounding. The details of each creature and environment in Fairyland is so vivid that you really do feel like you're standing there with the main character, September. Basically imagine a mixture of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, and that's the general feel of the story. Even fans of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would probably have a blast reading this, too. ...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I'm so freaking mad, I just knew I would love this book to death. I only liked it but it seemed like it was right there waiting for me to love it. I'm definitely going to re-read this one before going on to the other ones that I own because I usually love this kind of book!


And the pictures were so cute. I loved A-Through-L, the Wyvern. Well, the Wyverary since his father was a library. Don't ask!

I love that so many of my friends loved this book and like I said, I'm going to read it again maybe
May 03, 2011 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 Library Lady
Aug 09, 2011 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
For full feelings on The Fairyland Series, check out my video review.

This book is my favorite book in my favorite series. I'll front load this review with reasons it might not be for you: Valente is known for her dense, flowery writing. It is very descriptive and a lot of the charm is in just-because magic, backwards places and wild creatures that rely heavily on tropes created by other fairytales. It is also earnest and dispenses little nuggets of wisdom for people who appreciate a good quotabl
Mar 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: nil
I didn't properly finish the book because I couldn't bring myself to care about what happened to the main character. Or, rather, I feel like I already know: September is going to keep encountering a string of creatures, except [creature] is totally different from any other rendition of [creature] in literature, and will spend some time pedantically explaining itself and its neuroses, there'll be a lot of forced wackiness, and she'll pick up clues and bits of string and solve whatever at the end ...more
Jan 02, 2016 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
This is surely a whimsical and wonderful take on a classic fairytale. Valente also writes beautifully and challenges the reader (particularly young readers, the intended audience) with big words and big themes. I appreciated the grittiness of this story too. September, our heroine, faces some difficulties that you don't often find in children's literature. However, the middle of the story really lagged for me. There were a few chapters that didn't seem to contribute much to the plot other than t ...more
Mar 19, 2011 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
Heidi The Reader
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a modern take on more traditional fairy tales wherein a child finds a way to another world and comes back changed.

I first read the title of this book in Catherynne Valente's much more adult novel Palimpsest. I think it was mentioned as sitting on someone's book shelf. I remember thinking how I wish I could read that book too. Imagine my surprise to discover it was actually a book in the real world. Of course, I had to pick it
Apr 23, 2012 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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)

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
I'm actually kind of mad with myself here, as I cannot praise this book as much as I was hoping to. This was a good read, but it wasn't as fantastic as I wanted it to be. The story was sweet, and was comparable to a stick of rock. It hit the right buttons with me in the fairy tale sense, the characters were imaginative, the setting was creative, but that is it. That is where it ends with me. I had no thoughts about it once I'd finished it, and the story hasn't stayed with me, either.
I sound as i
Jun 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a re-read for me but the first time I listened to the author read the story to us.

September is a twelve-year-old girl from Omaha whose father has gone off to war and whose mother has to work in a plane factory for the war effort. One day, she is taken to Fairyland by the Green Wind and the Leopard of Little Breezes.

Thus begins her great big adventure through the Lands of Autumn, the city of Pandaemonium, a very unique Bath House and many other wonderful places with such quirky inhabitan
Mar 25, 2015 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
Apr 11, 2014 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More)
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
Megan Baxter
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just purely loved this, from start to finish. Valente plays with and creates her own Fairyland that is magical, delightful, a little ominous, whimsical and so much fun to be in, even if only for the length of the book. (Does that make me a Stumbler?)

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
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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

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)

Articles featuring this book

A great audiobook can transport you to a different country (or planet), capture your imagination through a cast of voices, or keep you driving...
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