Micheline'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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really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, fantasy, dragons, middle-grade, fairytales-retellings, parallel-worlds

I knew from the moment The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making that this was a book I could love, and I think to anyone who knows me it's pretty obvious why! I had really high hopes, and I think that's why I've only just finished reading it. I just didn't want my expectations to outshine this one. If I had known that I was depriving myself of such a treat, I'd have read this little gem a loooong time ago and saved myself the torture!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making tells the story of 12 year old September who up until now has led an ordinary (boring) life and wants nothing more than to have an adventure. That is, until the mysterious Green Wind (a mysterious man dressed in all-green) and his Leopard show up and invite September to Fairyland and even goes so far as to suggest Fairyland may need her help. September can't resist as she soon finds herself smack in the middle of Fairyland, meeting witches, a book loving dragon (!!!) and a strange blue boy named Saturday. But all is really not well in Fairyland and soon it becomes clear that the cunning Marquess is responsible for the state of things...and soon it becomes clear that an adventure is just what is in store for September and her friends - that and so much more!

If I had to describe The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland... in a few words, I would go with literary fairytale. The writing, the flow of it is simply wonderful. It's exactly what a perfect fairytale should be and more than once, I found myself wishing this book had been around when I was growing up! It's filled with achingly beautiful quotes like this:

“It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.”

And this:

“She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.”

One more for the road:

“When one is traveling, everything looks brighter and lovelier. That does not mean it IS brighter and lovelier; it just means that sweet, kindly home suffers in comparison to tarted-up foreign places with all their jewels on.”

I could go on and on with more of those - in fact, I spent some time liking my favorites on Goodreads right after I finished reading :) Author Catherynne M. Valente has a stunning way with words that are able to tug at your heartstrings and appeal to your sense of wonder all at the same time. This chick not only knows her fairytales, she lives them. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, despite all it's whimsy and oddities always felt true and genuine.

Beyond that though, there are SO many things to love about this book. Fairyland itself offers a very fresh take on the idea of 'crossing over into a magical world. The lore is rich and diverse, it holds together seamlessly like it's been around for hundreds of years but at the same time, it felt like nothing else I've ever read before. If I had to compare it to other stories, I'd go with Alice in Wonderland with a little bit of the Wizard of Oz - but to me The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland...goes above and beyond those stories into something even more satisfying!

The main reason for this being the characters. September for one is an absolute dear. She is brave but not unrealistically so, she's determined, she's kind and a true friend and she loves books but she doesn't think she's anything special. The supporting characters are just as wonderful though: A through L, the book loving dragon with a tender heart, Saturday shy and strong, the Leopard of Little Breezes, the Panther of Rough Storms (Yes, not one but 2 big magical felines ♥), The Green Wind...and a host of more quirky and entertaining characters; some nice ones and others, not so much but you could always be sure to be in for a surprise or a secret or two with every new face!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making was sheer delight to me. Despite it's small size, it's not a book I felt I could plow through but one I wanted to savor and take my time with. I'd highly recommend it to fans of fairytales, and well-writen middle grade reads that easily appeal to the adult crown with a penchant for the enchanted (like me)! Fans of Alice, Dorothy and Wendy will likely fall in love with September just as I did. Bottom line though, if you're looking for a 'feel-good read', something filled with happiness, whimsy & courage, that will stir your imagination and put a smile on your face? The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is all of that and more!

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars ★★★★☆
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Quotes Micheline Liked

Catherynne M. Valente
“... but as has been said, September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“Readers will always insist on adventures, and though you can have grief without adventures, you cannot have adventures without grief.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“When one is traveling, everything looks brighter and lovelier. That does not mean it IS brighter and lovelier; it just means that sweet, kindly home suffers in comparison to tarted-up foreign places with all their jewels on.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“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.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“Hats have power. Hats can change you into someone else.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“Wishes of one's old life wither and shrivel like old leaves if they are not replaced with new wishes when the world changes. And the world always changes. Wishes get slimy, and their colors fade, and soon they are just mud, like all the rest of the mud, and not wishes at all, but regrets. The trouble is, not everyone can tell when they ought to launder their wishes. Even when one finds oneself in Fairyland and not at home at all, it is not always so easy to remember to catch the world in it's changing and change with it.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“Do not ruin today with mourning tomorrow.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“When you are born,” the golem said softly, “your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk, and crusty things, and dirt, and fear, and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once in awhile, you have to scrub it up and get the works going, or else you’ll never be brave again.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“I wish you the best that can be hoped for, and no worse than can be expected.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“Of course not. No one is chosen. Not ever. Not in the real world. You chose to climb out of your window and ride on a leopard. You chose to get a witch’s Spoon back, and to make friends with a wyvern. You chose to trade your shadow for a child’s life. You chose not to let the Marquess hurt your friend--you chose to smash her cages! You chose to face your own Death, not to balk at a great sea to cross and no ship to cross it in. And twice now you have chosen not to go home when you might have, if only you abandoned your friends. 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. Just like you chose your path on the beach: to lose your heart is not a path for the faint and fainting.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making


Reading Progress

November 1, 2011 – Shelved
April 13, 2013 – Started Reading
April 19, 2013 –
page 94
38.06%
April 19, 2013 – Shelved as: young-adult
April 19, 2013 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 19, 2013 – Shelved as: dragons
April 24, 2013 –
page 170
68.83%
April 27, 2013 – Shelved as: middle-grade
April 27, 2013 – Finished Reading
July 14, 2014 – Shelved as: fairytales-retellings
March 23, 2015 – Shelved as: parallel-worlds

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