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


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She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her husband. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn. Skip to main content. Search Search. Advanced Search. By Catherynne M.

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Valente , Ana Juan Illustrator. Staff Reviews Getting tired with your run-of-the-mill fantasy series? Description "One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century. About the Author Catherynne M. She lives in Spain. Create new account Request new password. Jun 15, carol. Shelves: fantasy , young-adult , awards , my-library-hardcover , favorites , my-library. 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 The first two pages and I'm in love.

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 several spinster hamadryads. Yet it still explores the core emotional issues of independence, identity, fear, and love, while acknowledging the place children come from is not all kindness and cookies. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb tall trees and say shocking things and leap so very high that grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one.

Valente tells beautiful word-smithy tales. There's even a list of reasons why: "Thirdly, being French in origin, they have highly refined tastes and are unlikely to seek out unsavory things to eat, such as knights' gallbladders or maidens' bones. They much prefer a vat or two of truffles, a flock of geese, and a lake of wine, and they will certainly share. After finishing, I was mentally working out my review as I swam, and discovered I had trouble analyzing why I enjoyed this book so much.

I went home, picked up the book again, opened to a page and found myself saying, "oh, I loved this part," only to follow it with, "and this phrasing! Like a fantasy world. 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.

Dec 08, Richard Derus rated it it was amazing. 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 Which I hope to be around to see. View all 23 comments. Apr 12, Krystle rated it it was ok 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 This book just wasn't for me. Don't get me wrong, the world building is creative and all sorts of fabulous.

It's got humor, funky creatures, and all sorts of cool stuff we all love. But it's kinda hard to visualize. For me, anyway. There's even threads of deeper themes in the book. Such as even though things seem wonderful on the outside, they may not be when one looks closer at it. The maturation and growth of one leaving childhood and learning about the hardships of the world. The things a girl lacks and then wants may actually be what she has in bountiful measures even though she can't readily see it so clearly.

All this stuff. But I just wasn't into the story. I think it's the case of right book, wrong reader. I'm quite sure this book will have its scores of readers and that one shouldn't be deterred by my review. They should, of course, pick the book up themself and see if it's for them or not. I tried, I really tried. I got more than pages through this book and once I realized that I just didn't care or connect with the characters and had begun skimming I knew it was time to put the book down. Sad I couldn't like it more but I guess that's how the world of books go. View all 13 comments.

Aug 13, Catie rated it really liked it Recommended to Catie by: Crowinator. Shelves: ya , audio , fantasy , read-in I am generally one for simple, blunt truth.

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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. But, all this s I am generally one for simple, blunt truth. But, all this shine and glimmer and show has some real substance underneath it. And honestly…I liked the shine and glimmer most of the time. September is a twelve year old girl who finds her life dull and tedious, and so, when the Green Wind flows in one day with a flying Leopard to take her off to Fairyland, she goes without a thought.

In Fairyland she initially gets swept up in novelty and adventure, as she meets glorious new friends and takes on a random quest. But she soon realizes that all is not well: the Marquesse reigns, imposing strict taxes, restrictions, and bureaucracy on every citizen. The similarities to Alice in Wonderland are evident, but this book also makes little nods to many other notable fantasy series.

And I seriously doubt Alice would ever fashion her own boat out of fairy drift-scepters and then sail it bald and in the nude. The writing reminds me of Neil Gaiman, or I think that if China Mieville had a sweet, optimistic little sister she might write a book like this. However, even with all of these nods, this book feels inventive and original. I want to think about what it might be like to be born half a person, or created out of soap.

I want to imagine that I can have my courage cleaned and find a jacket that loves me and cares for me.

I want to know what kind of adventures my shadow would get up to if we were ever separated. But even with all of these oddities and inventions, this book has a strong undercurrent of the real. I felt so much sympathy for Lye, left all alone without instruction, or Saturday, who must always be forced to submit. And I laughed with A through L, the stalwart wyvern-library hybrid. But the most affecting of all turned out to be someone I least expected. I felt so betrayed and bitter on her behalf. That whole part is just brilliant.

This song is so quirky and oddly beautiful. I think that it's about risking a horrible fate to go out and live and see glorious sights. Also seen on The Readventurer. View all 28 comments. 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 more or less Heartless, she doesn't tell her mother good-bye or leave her a note. She finds some delightful and magical friends and is reluctantly pulled into a quest by the cruel ruler of Fairyland, the Marquess. And September begins to grow a heart, which can be a painful process, especially if you are fated to lose it. It's extremely fantastical and whimsical, and it was a little too much for me when I sat down and tried to read it straight through, but when I started reading it in smaller doses, with breaks in between, the delightfulness resurfaced.

This would be a fun read-aloud book with children who are old enough to handle some painful scenes where characters get badly hurt. It's ultimately a very uplifting story with a good underlying message. 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.

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It's free online at Tor. View all 18 comments. Dec 18, mark monday rated it really liked it Shelves: legendarium , fantasy-modern , inbetweenworld. Valente is a marvel with language. Valente makes the adventure a pleasure from beginning to end. View all 22 comments. 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.

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

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 I'm so freaking mad, I just knew I would love this book to death. I love that so many of my friends loved this book and like I said, I'm going to read it again maybe next year before continuing on with the other ones I have because I think it's just my mood.

This is really a cute book and I know it's usually something I love. Makes me sad! View all 4 comments. May 03, Betsy rated it it was amazing. 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.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

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 Well devil if I know what to do with it. So what does the universe do? Does it say, "Maybe you should try something other than fantasy for a change"? It does not. Instead it hands the children's librarian a book with a title like The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and if she hasn't hyperventilated after reading the title says to her, "Here you go, smart guy.

Try this on for size. It'll have you reading a book that walks up to the usual middle grade chapter book fantasy tropes and slaps 'em right smack dab in the face. I have never, in all my livelong days, read a book quite like Catherynne Valente's. My job now is to figure out whether that is a good thing, or very very bad. When September is asked by The Green Wind whether or not she'd be inclined to take a trip to Fairyland with him, she's so excited to get going that she manages to lose a shoe in the process.

Like many a good reader September is inclined to think that she knows the rules of alternate worlds. Yet it doesn't take much time before she realizes that not all things are well in the realm of magic. A strange Marquess has taken over, having defeated the previous good ruler, and before she knows it September is sent to try to retrieve a spoon from the all powerful villain.

Along the way she befriends a Wyvern who is certain that his father was a library, and a strange blue Marid boy named Saturday who can grant you a wish, but only if you defeat him in a fight. With their help, Saturday realizes what it means to lose your heart within the process of becoming less heartless. Each year you'll encounter one big children's book that can be labeled as such. Certain books and certain writers can have violent affects on their readers, unsuspected until the official reviews start pouring in.

Then suddenly folks with opinions start pouring out of the woodwork. One thing's for certain, though. Everyone has an opinion. This year I've only identified two potentially divisive books and one of them is the title you see before you today. I know I've been a little cagey about what I thought of it until now so here's the I like it. A lot. Far more than I thought that I would, particularly after that first chapter. As far as I can determine, enjoying this book means getting through Chapter One.

If you read the first chapter and find yourself throwing the book against the wall without restraint, this may not be the story for you. If, however, you feel a vague queasiness that resolves itself into reluctant curiosity, you may wish to continue. And if you do, you will find a title that really outdoes itself in being. But why is it divisive?


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It all comes down to Valente's language. Look, here's the first sentence as an example: "Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents' house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog.

Here's some advice on going through this book. Step One: Get a grasp on its internal logic. The Alice's Adventures in Wonderland comparison is inevitable. Generally speaking, a person is able to identify a poor debut children's book when the author attempts to make an Alice-in-Wonderland-but-with-a-twist book. The problem with this plan is that just as no band sounds quite like The Beatles, no children's novel ever sounds quite like Alice. They try, oh Lord they try, but no go. More often than not such books are instead tedious and very poorly done.

Most of them think that the lure of Alice is strange talking creatures in a world with no rules. This is somewhat true, but it's only a piece of the puzzle. And in all my days as a children's librarian, reading fantasy after fantasy, I have NEVER encountered a book that came as close to Alice as this. Not because Valente also throws a girl into a fairyland with kooky characters, but because it is so infinitely clear that she loves to play with language.

Logic isn't as twisted up as it is in Carroll's universe, but that's all right. Valente is comfortable weaving her own unique vision, and like Carroll she's not afraid to throw in a little joke for adults once in a while. Would a kid get anything out of reading that the Green Wind possesses a "golden ring of diplomatic immunity"? Probably not and they probably won't care when Saturday enters a delicious looking town that, "was as though the witch who built the gingerbread house in the story had a great number of friends and decided to start up a collective.

Of course September is far more active than Alice when seeking out her adventure.

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In fact, if I were to compare her to any famous children's literary character, she probably bears more in common with Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth than anyone else. That was my first thought. That's a pretty pedigree. On top of that, this is a thoroughly American fantasy. One where you won't encounter random characters with cockney accents a current pet peeve of mine. Her father is stationed in Europe while her mother works in the factories at home.

Many fantasies for kids eschew placing their stories in such distinctive time periods, but if it worked for Narnia it should work here too. And Valente gets personalities down rather well too. I heard one complaint that the Marid named Saturday is hardly a fleshed out character. I might contest this, though, since I found him capable of many small touches that rang clear and true to me.

For example, at one point he makes a point that is followed up with the notation, "He was still too shy to suggest anything without wrapping it up tight to keep it safe. It takes a while to get a good grasp on the Marquess, but once you get her full backstory then there's a lot to admire here. A mere two-dimensional villain she is not, and for that I was grateful. Ana Juan, brilliant Ana Juan, could not have been a better person to draw the interstitial illustrations that appear at the beginnings of each and every chapter.

This Spanish illustrator specializes in dreamlike worlds on her own time "The Night Eater" is a perfect example so it is interesting to see what she does with a book like Valente's. To my surprise, she hones in her talents a bit. The pictures here are most definitely her own, but there's a tendency here to make them a little younger and clearer than I'm used to seeing. There's a darkness to Valente's story that does not replicate itself in the pictures, which is probably a good thing.

After all, Quentin Blake 's illustrations have always served to make Roald Dahl less frightening at times. Maybe Juan's are doing the same thing here. In the end, it's all about the language and the inevitable question of whether or not kids will dig the book. It's a worthy question. When a character is sent to a fairyland, even one in dire straits, it is up to the author to make it clear that this is a place you would want to visit. Some fantasies go a shade too dark and because of this inclination do not become beloved by children. Valente, however, mixes some wonderful elements with some horrific ones well enough that I think this book could be fondly remembered by a child years and years later.

And when they return to it as adults, how surprised they will be by the wordplay. I won't lie. Some folks do NOT like this book, and I can understand why that is. For me, though, this is just one of the smarter juxtapositions of the fantastical with the tongue-twisted. Here you have an author who clearly enjoys writing. And if that enjoyment seeps through the page and into the reader's perceptions, then here is a book that they'll clearly enjoy reading.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) Review

A true original and like nothing you've really ever seen before. For ages Shelves: why-did-i-buy-this , skimmed-which-was-more-than-enough. 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 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. 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 standing in front of them wanting their help in finding the right book!

Sep 22, Bradley rated it it was amazing Shelves: worldbuilding-sf , ya , fantasy , shelf. 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 This is easily one of the most delightful and magical YA titles I've ever read. I'm going to be reading this to my daughter when she is a little older. I honestly think it surpasses Pullman and Gaiman and Carroll. It's so light and it tickles all my funny-bones.

And best of all, it leaves no aftertaste except for a pleasant glow. No saccarine. No pedantic moralizing. Just plain magic, trickery, adventure, and a twist of the tongue that makes me grin from ear to ear. Valente is quickly becoming one of my most beloved authors. I knew I had to read everything after Radiance , and this just cements it. View all 19 comments. Jan 02, Trish rated it it was amazing. 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!

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 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!

Anyway, this is the story of a girl called September who lives in Omaha and wishes herself away. I think we can all relate to that even if we do not live in Omaha. Her wish is granted and thus begins her adventure in Fairyland. The story itself is thrilling and adventuresome but, naturally, reminds the reader of other child-gets-to-fantasy-world-and-has-adventures stories. In fact, what was quite the gem while reading this book, was that the author references books like the Narnia series, Alice's Wonderland and Dorothy's Land of Oz and one could argue that she showed these to be all the same place, really.

However, this is NOT a typical book. Far from it. The author truly is a mage - and I don't say this often. Books about magical lands should also have magical words describing said magical world. And this author, so far as I can tell, is definitely one of the best when it comes to a magical language. Maybe she even is THE best of them. And a quirky, silly, funny, dark one too. Seriously, this tale has so many layers, it is hard to do it justice when describing it. I will admit that I had my doubts in the beginning when the author said that view spoiler [children are heartless hide spoiler ] since I thought this to be very odd and very false.

But I think I just had the wrong sort of expectations from that line and very soon afterwards the words had bound me and swept me away and when we came to view spoiler [The House Without Warning hide spoiler ] I was utterly spellbound. That scene with view spoiler [Lye and the many different fairy baths hide spoiler ] was the most beautiful and magical thing I've ever read and I loved it!

Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn't. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday. Catherynne M. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.

She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human. Ana Juan is a world-renowned illustrator. She lives in Madrid, Spain.

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

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