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

Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making
Twelve-year-old September's ordinary life in Omaha turns to adventure when a Green Wind takes her to Fairyland to retrieve a talisman the new and fickle Marquess wants from the enchanted woods.

Publisher: New York : Feiwel and Friends, 2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780312649616
Characteristics: 247p. :,ill. ;,25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Juan, Ana


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Nov 18, 2014
  • GuyN rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Blurbs on the bookcover from Holly Black, Tamora Pierce, Peter Beagle and Neil Gaiman. Won the Andre Norton Award. Plugged by Patrick Rothfuss on his blog. Rave on Amazon by Cory Doctorow. An impressive list of fantasy fans. I see why. Imaginative it is, very. Absurb, surreal, and chaotic, sometimes. I like all these things, but I found it very hard to get through and in my library system it is juvenile fiction. Maybe I need a younger imagination, because it didn't flow well for me. Still, I recommend it and it may become a classic of the genre.

Sep 11, 2014
  • forbesrachel rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Both strange and wonderful! Valente has created an ornately worded fairytale full of beautiful descriptions, dialogue, metaphorical language, and imagery, with an almost theatrical quality. Characters and the world they inhabit are dreamlike, and in many ways run in the same vein as Alice in Wonderland. At points the narrator breaks the fourth wall to foreshadow or forewarn. In this way the author sets things up well in advance, purposefully noting important things that will entice us. Curiosity drags us forward as we try to predict why something is important. Initially withheld character motivations, like the reason for the Green Wind's actions, and why September is so willing to leave home, serves a similar purpose. Despite the fantastical context, September is actually a rather normal child in the formative stage of her life. She is no heroine, has no special talent, and is only cautiously brave. As we learn more about her, and her parents, we come to see her deeper side, and how she is less a child than we first think. Like any good adventure story, her escape into this world only forces her to grow, for Fairyland is full of problems, restrictions, and sadness. She learns that even here reality doesn't allow for true happy endings, she must decide what her outlook on life is, and by helping others, she actually helps herself. This exquisitely thought-provoking, intelligent narrative absorbs us in a world thoroughly wrought, with characters full of charm and wisdom.

Aug 15, 2014

12 year-old September lives a normal, ordinary life, until she is whisked away by the Green Wind to Fairyland, and sent on a question by the new Marquess. Fairyland is an unpredictable place, and while September will make new friends and have new adventure, she will also face new dangers....

Jul 29, 2014

I would best describe this book as Alice in Wonderland reimagined for Teens/Adults. This book is full of rich landscapes, characters and a whimsical plot and the experience of the main character is oddly relatable even as an adult.

Aug 07, 2013
  • artemishi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is one of those rare books that defies genre. Is it a children's book, or an adult's book posing as a children's book? The answer is yes.

In the style of Alice in Wonderland, this book is delightfully convention-defying. At its self-aware surface, it's a story of one girl's adventures in fairyland.
But every action and observation holds a deeper truth about growing up, growing older, becoming yourself...and its the darker, heart-breaking truths. Still, with all its delightful prose, these dark truths don't make the story depressing, they just add depth.

This story plays on well-known fairytales (the Grimm's version, not the Disney version, thankfully). The main character, September, is an excellent role model for a young girl, without the story seeming to be preachy. I don't have children of my own, but I think this story would be delightful for both adults and children...especially read to children by their parents.

The book also contains whimsical little drawings that match the action of the story. I like the style of the drawings, though I felt there should have been more of them.

I am definitely going to read the sequel, and I recommend this to the young, young at heart, fans of whimsy and fairytales, fans of strong female characters, and those who appreciate the tongue-in-cheek.

Jun 22, 2013
  • Yahong_Chi rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

It takes a while to adjust to Catherynne Valente's writing style; it's rather full of Things that Are Capitalized, and random phrases like "Good-bye, shoe! September will miss you soon." Once you get into the flow of things, though, the writing helps establish the otherworldly, whimsical yet ominous atmosphere of the fantasy land. It's isn't without its faults, but it's perfectly bearable. The characters and how they interact with each other are also influenced by the writing style: September, if taken out of context, wouldn't sound like any normal twelve-year-old; but in the story, she sounds her age. And the trio of friends is wonderfully charming; their interactions become each of their individual personalities (...but I hold a special place in my heart for the Wyverary). The one major bend in the plot helps to keep the pace going, as the settings change and the faces around September grow baleful. It all wraps up neatly, but the idea of circumstance versus The Chosen One seems rather unresolved and undecided; in contrast, the theme of moving on versus staying still is well-developed. The ending is bittersweet, hopeful and surpising all at once, and definitely w ill springboard readers to the sequel (also of amibitous title, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There).

May 14, 2013
  • JCLAmyF rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Favorite things: the narrator addresses the reader occasionally, the protagonist is aware she's in a fairy story, and the chapters all have a " which..." subheading.

Mar 28, 2013
  • bwortman rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I fell in love with this book from the opening page. A brilliant and complex fairytale, Valente weaves a narrative reminiscent of some of my favourite classic children's books, Peter Pan and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The language is rich and beautiful, effortlessly creating fantastic images, delightful dialogue, and establishing a narrative voice that's thoroughly charming. And speaking of charming, September is a delightful heroine to follow as she encounters an amazing cast of characters that it is impossible not to love. The illustrations heading up each chapter are also a delight and bring Fairyland to life with grace and detail. A great fairytale for those full of heart or, like our heroine, September, the somewhat heartless.

Mar 04, 2013
  • JCLJoshN rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An absolutely wonderful fairy tale fantasy in the spirit of Alice in Wonderland, the Oz books, and The Phantom Tollbooth. Cat Valente's story doesn't condescend to children or adults. It's smart, funny, thrilling, enchanting and surreal.

Dec 21, 2012
  • iicydiamonds rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

As an adult I may not be the target audience for this book, but I still greatly enjoyed it! It's fun and whimsical. A wonderful choice for a time when you want to escape the real world and spend some time in "what if".

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Jul 12, 2014
  • akhansen25 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

akhansen25 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

May 19, 2014

green_bear_838 thinks this title is suitable for 7 years and over

Aug 12, 2013
  • white_dolphin_39 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

white_dolphin_39 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

May 14, 2013
  • JCLAmyF rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

JCLAmyF thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

Jan 18, 2013
  • regnard rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

regnard thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Jul 10, 2012
  • blue_bird_3138 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

blue_bird_3138 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

May 24, 2012
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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May 14, 2013
  • JCLAmyF rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“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."

May 24, 2012
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“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.”

May 24, 2012
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

[The town] “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.”


Add a Summary

May 24, 2012
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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.


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