Alison's Reviews > The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own M... by Catherynne M. Valente
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Jun 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: adventure, fantasy, middle-school, light, quirky, elementary-school, 2011, writing-to-write-home-about

I read this book MONTHS ago and after all this time... I still feel conflicted about it. I thought the writing was stunning -- so many perfect turns of phrase -- but ultimately the language was so pretty (for lack of a better word) that it held me at a bit of a distance from the story. I never connected as fully with the characters as I'd hoped to, so emotionally the book didn't just didn't quite hit home with me.

I loved the wit and whimsy of the story and the creative mash-up of various fairy tale conventions that appear here. But in spite of those things I found it pretty easy to put this book down between readings.

I ultimately can't help feeling that this book was pitched more to the adult in me than the kid. There are DEFINITELY young readers who will love this story and find it wholly absorbing. I think , though, that a lot of kids will feel that they aren't really connected to the characters, and some will get bogged down by the sheer volume of text in the book plus the intricacy of its language.

Those who are NOT impaired by these things, though, will witness some truly wonderful, wonderful inventiveness with words, spun by an unmistakably talented writer. For that reason I'm giving this book 4 stars, though I am tempted (for "kid-friendliness" and emotional-connectedness reasons) to give it 3.

Regardless of all this numbers-rating stuff, I would very much like to see what other middle grade tricks Cat Valente has up her sleeve.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Amanda Oh, I totally agree. I find myself a bit stumped on who I'd give this book to. It's not really exciting, and the language will be a barrier to many. You expressed what I could not.


Alison It's a hard book to describe, isn't it? I find it hasn't stayed with me well either, which doesn't help matters. It's hard to understand how such good writing and rich story doesn't add up to a perfect reading experience, but somehow that math just didn't work for me! Thinking about the actual title of the book - it kinda tells you what you're in for, no?


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