The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
By Mary Eisenhart,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Unusual, compelling tale sends girl, readers on grand quest.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Both kids and adults will pick up lots of cool vocabulary words. Parts of the story will have readers delving deeper into many subjects, from mythic beasts and fairy tales to life during World War II.
Courage, loyalty, and love come into play and are rewarded, without soft-pedaling the fact that doing the right thing is often terribly hard, and has unexpected consequences.
Positive Role Models
September and the friends she meets along the way strive to do the right thing, even when faced with bewildering challenges. September is dedicated and resourceful in pursuing her quest. Characters show great love and loyalty to each other.
Violence & Scariness
There are many scary scenes, including one where river monsters are intent on snatching away a terrified little girl, and another in which September must beat her friend in combat. Along the way, September has a meeting with Death, and characters are sometimes in mortal danger.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Everything's pretty G-rated here, though older kids will enjoy the author's sly humor in, for example, September's innocent suggestion that a couple would enjoy spending their wedding night with a glass of milk and a nice book. September's new friend Ell proudly announces that he's the offspring of a mythical dragon-like being and a library.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alchemy and magical potions are part of the story.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is, as the title suggests, uncompromising in its expectation that readers will be able to cope with big words, suspend their disbelief, and get into the story. It's so vivid, imaginative, thought-provoking, and heartstring-pulling that it's hard to resist. In this first of a planned five volumes, various characters, particularly protagonist September, show great bravery, especially when they're terrified. There are plenty of scary moments, including encounters with Death itself. Appealing characters are enslaved, held captive, or in mortal danger, while others suffer terrible, fateful losses, and difficult choices. At least one character is pregnant for part of the story, and the child of two others appears in a flash-forward, but the reproduction involved seems more magical than sexual, as another character is the offspring of a mythical beast and a library.
Where to Read
Based on 2 parent reviews
Super Great Book!
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Whimsical story with engaging language
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What's the Story?
In 1940s Omaha, 12-year-old September's life is hard; her father has gone to war, and her mother spends her days working in an airplane factory. One day a Green Wind riding on a leopard arrives and offers to take her to Fairyland. Off she goes, encountering comic and scary characters who send her off on various quests, which often turn out to involve surprising friendships and hard choices, as well as strange connections between worlds.
Is It Any Good?
Author Catherynne M. Valente's briskly elegant style simply snatches you into the narrative before you quite know what's happening. Amid its many critical raves, THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING has drawn comparisons to everything from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to The Phantom Tollbooth, with the immediate disclaimer that it's a true original. However improbable the sequence of witches, monsters, fairies, and mythical creatures, the intricate story works like a Swiss watch with its own internal logic. The characters are unforgettable and complex, and artist Ana Juan's vivid, often foreboding illustrations bring them to life.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how there are many books these days about kids being whisked away to Fairyland. What others have you read, and how does this one compare?
What do you know about the lives of families during World War II? Did members of your family go off to war and factory work, leaving their kids alone? How did everybody cope?
The narrator describes September as "somewhat heartless": Do you think this is accurate? Why or why not?
- Author: Catherynne M. Valente
- Illustrator: Ana Juan
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: May 10, 2011
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 17
- Number of pages: 256
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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Where to Read
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