A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, like its predecessor, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, the second book in the series, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, is hugely imaginative, lushly written, and emotionally rich. Some adult subjects, from war and abusive parents to reproduction and same-sex romance, are part of the story's complex fabric, usually to define the scene, the characters, and the connections between worlds. While there's no graphic violence, there are some scary scenes of terrified characters being pursued by a shadow-snatcher bent on taking their shadows to the underworld. Once again, readers will often find themselves consulting a dictionary to keep up with author Catherynne M. Valente's vocabulary (in several languages). Those reading aloud who found themselves unable to continue through their tears at the end of the last book should consider this a heads-up that there are more such extreme moments of poignant sweetness here.
What's the story?
As September, heroine of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, turns 13, World War II goes on, her father is still fighting in France, her mother still works long days in the aircraft factory, and the girls at school have become even meaner. When at long last she gets to return to Fairyland, she finds things much changed, mostly because of a lifesaving but fateful choice she made in the first book. The Fairyland she knows and the people in it are rapidly losing their magic because something is spiriting their shadows to Fairyland-Below. Determined to right this wrong, September heads for Fairyland-Below, where she meets some old friends -- or at least their shadows -- and many new challenges.
Is it any good?
This is a real stunner, a tour de force of imagination and heart with plenty to offer kids and adults, a compelling story, and characters who stick with you long after the last page has been turned. (Good news: Next book in the series is due in October 2013.)
Catherynne M. Valente's writing style is ornately descriptive and gleefully verbose, which might have been a disaster but instead brings lots of unexpected delights with its constant barrage of fanciful characters, comedy, and wise remarks. Ana Juan's illustrations are dark, often funny, and add more dimension to the characters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the world of Fairyland-Below. How does it compare with other fantasy worlds you've read about or seen in movies?
What do you know about rationing that happened during World War II? How would your life change if food and gasoline and other essentials of daily life were rationed?
If your shadow was a real person, what would he or she be like? Do you think you'd get along?
- 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, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: October 2, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 13
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love Fantasy and strong female characters
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.