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

Catherynne M. Valente
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 Jan 2013
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 (mightn't you?). When she gets there, she finds a land crushed by the iron rule of a villainous Marquess - she soon discovers that she alone holds the key to restoring order. As September forges her way through Fairyland, with a book-loving dragon and a boy named Saturday by her side, she makes many friends and mistakes. But while she loses her shadow, her shoe and her way, she finds adventure, courage, a rather special Spoon, and a lot more besides . . .

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Frequently Bought Together

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making + The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There + The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
Price For All Three: 18.53

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Much-in-Little (17 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 178033981X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780339818
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A glorious balancing act between modernism and the Victorian Fairy Tale, done with heart and wisdom. (Neil Gaiman )

An Alice in Wonderland for the 21st century... So effortless, so vivid, so funny. Every page has a phrase or observation to savour and her characters are wondrous creations. (Sunday Telegraph )

A charming modern fairytale...with a knowing twinkle in its eye (Telegraph )

Bundles of imagination and wry wit... This is a sophisticated world of forfeits, paradoxes and tricks. (Financial Times )

A mad, toothsome romp of a fairy tale - full of oddments, whimsy, and joy. (Holly Black )

If you haven't heard of Catherynne Valente, give it time. She's only 32, and she's writing at a furious pace. Valente brings fathomless inventiveness to her fiction... A book for young adults, rich and strange enough for grown-ups, too. (Lev Grossman )

A whole esoteric world of whimsy - Alice meets the Wizard of Oz meets the Persephone story with a whiff of Narnia. (Independent on Sunday ) is in fact one of the most extraordinary works of fantasy for adults or children so far this century. (Lev Grossman Time )

Sweet fairytale, shot through with salty tears - magic! (Cory Doctorow )

Get swept away by this charming book (Vogue )

Pure escapism (Bliss magazine )

Book Description

Prepare to be swept away to a land unlike any other, with a cast of friends you'll have for life. A charming modern fairytale with crossover appeal, full of 'oddments, wisdom and joy' (Holly Black)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning story made to be read aloud 4 Jun 2012
By W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Catherynne M. Valente is a name it's hard to miss in the SFF community. She's been twice nominated for a Hugo, won both the Tiptree and the Andre Norton Award and has won or been nominated for numerous other awards. She's also one of the SF Squeecast regulars, a podcast I listen to with pleasure every month. I follow several bloggers who adore her writing, such as The Booksmugglers and The Little Red Reviewer. Still, despite reading rave reviews and having my interest peaked every time I did so, I never got around to reading any of Valente's work. Until now that is. And after having finished The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, all I can say is "WOW!" and "Now I get it." I was blown away by this book and Valente's writing and story-telling.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - hereafter referred to as The Girl Who... - is gorgeously written. Its prose is stunning and was made for reading aloud, chock-full of alliterations, rhyming and just generally beautiful passages. And that is just the words on the page; the text is heavily layered with different meanings. Plus there are lovely allusions to other classical works such as The Wizard of Oz, The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. I had a lot of fun spotting these and making the connections. The Girl Who... would probably be a very rewarding book to reread, as I'd guess you'll find new things in it every time. The narrative is also quite self aware, with a narrator that addresses the reader directly and talks about the conventions of story-telling and warns the reader when he is about to break them. I really liked this aspect and the narrative voice, which was warm and at time gently mocking the goings-on in the book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing and definitely not just for the young. 18 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very occasionally, a book comes along which grabs you from title to blurb and this was one of them.
I am a sucker for a twisted fairytale, and in a sense I suppose this qualifies as that. It's narrated in an utterly delightful and direct fashion and is much more realistic (if that's possible) than most fairy stories.

I adored every second of it, and highly recommend it.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Every child wants to be whisked away to a magical land, have adventures, and set out on a fantastical quest against a tyrant.

It's a pretty typical fantasy storyline as well, and it takes something special to make such stories stand out. Catherynne Valente's "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" is an enchanting example, filled with delightful nonsense, wryly witty prose, and a wonderfully oddball world that reminds me of a more lyrical Lewis Carroll.

A young girl named September is whisked away from her boring Nebraska home by the Green Wind, who takes her to Fairyland. But September soon finds herself traveling through Fairyland herself, encountering a soap golem, a half-library wyvern named A-Through-L, a wairwulf, the Perverse and Perilous Sea with its golden beaches, The House Without Warning, gnomish customs agents, a jeweled key, a migration of bicycles.

She also is given a quest by a pair of witches -- find the magical spoon that the cruel Marquess stole from their dead brothers. So she and the Wyverary set out to the city of Pandemonium, but soon find themselves (and a flying leopard named Saturday) on a new quest, with overwhelming results for all the people of Fairyland.

Normally, Catherynne Valente has a lush, lyrical, sensual writing style, and there's a fair amount of that in this book ("... the moon slowly fall down into the horizon and all the dark morning stars turn in the sky like a silver carousel"). Her Fairyland is a weird, sometimes dangerous place filled with countless oddball creatures (migrating bicycles!), making her story feel like a more plotcentric "Alice in Wonderland.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming modern fairy tale 6 July 2012
By Hannah
The UK finally get The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland! I've been pining after this book since it was just a young ARC in the US so when Constable & Robinson contacted me offering a review copy I may have jumped up and down waving my hands in the air going, "Ooh! Ooh! Yes please! *kisses feet*" And by golly it didn't disappoint. It's as bizarre and fantastic as the blurb and cover art leads you to believe.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland (in a Ship of Her Own Making) is an utterly nonsensical, charming, and of course, brilliant book with possibly the longest title I have ever seen. The characters are utterly bursting with colour, there are little things throughout that had me giggling and at one point almost in tears, and Fairyland itself.. wow. Fairyland is a fantasy world that is entirely conscious of what it is: a fairy tale world. And while knowing this, lovingly stroking it like a precious cat. It is charming and fantastic, simultaneously it's dark and terrifying. September, the protagonist, I didn't entirely love but that was most likely because I was way too busy loving everything else in the book. Catherynne M. Valente has such imagination that you are able to completely lose yourself in Fairyland.

If you haven't read this yet, whatever your reading preferences may be, I suggest you do so. Recommend your local libraries order copies in and tell every book worm you know that this is a great book for young and old readers. It's a modern fairy tale reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz with just a dab of darkness at its' heart, just enough to rock your emotions. It is exactly the kind of book that if you don't put down quickly, you won't at all and it ends in such a way that everything is well wrapped up and you're a happy reader, but it leaves a way in for a sequel. I only wish there were more books like this one!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Read in front of the fire (flames gently flickering), curled up on the...
‘The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making’ by Catherynne M. Valente.

All is not well in Fairyland. Read more
Published 12 days ago by B E Griffiths
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Never read a book like this before I was hooked. Really enjoyed it, need to purchase some more from CM Valente
Published 1 month ago by THEARTS
Having seen it featured and positively raved about on so many blogs this has been on my Wish List for a long time but I kept putting off for fear it may not live up to all the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tracy Terry
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, well written, original elements
I very much look forward to reading the next few in the series. A children's book but definitely readable by adults. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kimberley
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
Amazingly imaginative and vocabulary stretching too! I would definitely recommend this book to adults, teenagers and higher key stage 2 readers. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Gemma
5.0 out of 5 stars The girl who circumnavigated fairyland in a ship of her own making
Amazing, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone aged 9 to 13 this book is fantastic.
Published 8 months ago by Alison
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me - but you might like it?
I did not enjoy this book. It is not bad, this by-the-numbers fairytale built on lush prose, with little in the way of surprise: every metaphorical gun on the mantel goes off when... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Glen Mehn
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit too full on straight away.....oddly written
It's quite non-sensical really, no background and few details other than she sounds a bit of a spoilt brat, which didn't endear me to her nor encourage me to read on. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Alison Bacon-Snow
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual
An unusual story that will be a great read for my more advanced Year 6 pupils who are in to fantasy. Quite a different feel to this story.
Published 8 months ago by Jen
5.0 out of 5 stars magic!
Suspend disbelief for an amazing, richly-told and complex adventure. Should be read by anyone with an imagination that's easy read astray :)
Published 9 months ago by Michael Jackson-Matthews
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