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247 pages, Hardcover
First published May 10, 2011
“How does one get to Fairyland? After a while, we shall certainly pass India and Japan and California and simply come round to my house again.”C'mon...just say Ahhhhhh!!!
The Green Wind chuckled. “I suppose that would be true if the earth were round.”
“I’m reasonably sure it is…”
“You’re going to have to stop that sort of backward, old-fashioned thinking, you know. Conservatism is not an attractive trait. Fairyland is a very Scientifick place. We subscribe to all the best journals.”
The Leopard of Little Breezes gave a light roar. Several small clouds skipped huffily out of their path.
“The earth, my dear is roughly trapezoidal, vaguely rhomboid, a bit of a tessaract, and altogether grumpy when its fur is stroked the wrong way! In short, it is a puzzle, my autumnal acquisition…”
CHAPTER IIThus, we are given hints as to what to look for, but no way of knowing what it means until it happens and at which point we smile, say wow wow wubsy and bask in the warm and fuzzy glow of the awesomeness.
THE CLOSET BETWEEN WORLDS
In which September Passes Between Worlds, asks Four Questions and Receives Twelve Answers, and Is Inspected by a Customs Officer
September, really. Which do you think is more likely? That some brute bull left my mother with egg and went off to sell lonemozers, or that she mated with a Library and had many loved and loving children? I mean, let us be realistic!This is a cute and whimsical story of a pre-teen Nebraska girl September (born in May, actually) who eagerly leaves the world where her father is fighting in a war and her mother is building airplanes, and sets out for Fairyland. Where, as she soon learns, things are not all that she had thought they'd be. There is violence, and slavery, and pain, and abandonment, and cruelty, and bureaucracy.
I believe I am sick to death of hearing what is and is not allowed. What is the purpose of a Fairyland if everything lovely is outlawed, just like in the real world?Along the way, September meets the aforementioned Wyverary, a wish-granting Marid, the evil Marquess, spoonless witches, queenless soap golem, migrating velocipedes, and a jacket that is eager to please, among others. Along the way, she loses her heart, her shadow, her friends, and a great deal of her innocence. And finds much more than she lost - or bargained for.
Oh, September. Such lonely, lost things you find on your way. It would be easier, if you were the only one lost. But lost children always find each other, in the dark, in the cold. It is as though they are magnetized, and can only attract their like. [...] If you would only leave cages locked and turn away from unloved Wyverns, you could stay Heartless. But you are stubborn, and do not listen to your elders.This story is marketed for children, but I think it takes an adult to fully appreciate the scope of this story as well as many more-or-less subtle adult hints scattered throughout. The book is permeated with the nostalgia for childhood and innocence, and you can truly appreciate this nostalgia only after you have left your childhood behind.
You’ll know it right away, it’s a big wooden spoon, streaked with marrow and wine and sugar and yogurt and yesterday and grief and passion and jealousy and tomorrow.But the writing grew on me as I continued with the story, and I came to love the fluidity of language and the beauty and lyricism of Valente's apt descriptions. The plot moves along smoothly and in determined fashion - much like September does through the Fairyland.
That’s the way I’m made. I have to keep going, always, and even when I get where I’m going I’ll have to keep on.The strange and somewhat broken Fairyland has won me over. I recommend this book to everyone who loves to exercise their imagination with a bot of whimsy. Plus, you will get to meet my favorite Wyverary! 4.5 stars, and it is placed on my "For-my-future-hypothetical-daughter" shelf.
Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.
"You are not the chosen one, September. Fairyland did not choose you--you chose yourself. You could have had a lovely holiday in Fairyland and never met the Marquess, never worried yourself with local politics, had a romp with a few brownies and gone home with enough memories for a lifetime's worth of novels. But you didn't. You chose. You chose it all."Reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is kind of like this:
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 has no limits.If you love fantasy or fairy tales, you will fall head-over-heels in love with this book.