A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Catherynne M. Valente's conclusion to the Fairyland saga maintains the wild imagination, oddball perspective, and deep heart that has set the series apart and made it so popular with kids and critics alike. It also wraps up the various plot threads and relationships in an emotionally satisfying way. Along the way, there are plentiful positive messages about friendship, loyalty, love, family, courage, teamwork, and self-sacrifice. Two central characters exchange several intense kisses; some of the conflicts involve fights to the death -- or at least sending recently resurrected characters back to the grave. One vanquished character's remains are turned into a chair. Note: This is the fifth book in a series with a list of characters that takes up two-and-a-half pages in a helpful list at the beginning. It will make very little sense if you haven't read the other installments.
What's the story?
Over the past five years and four volumes, Nebraska girl September and her Fairyland friends -- her beloved, Saturday, and her Wyverary, A-Through-L -- have had many adventures across time and space, alone and together. Through it all there runs an inescapable conflict: September is torn between two worlds, with people she loves in both of them. When she's home, she longs for Fairyland; in Fairyland, she's homesick. As the story opens, September, now 17, has been freed from a long imprisonment in Fairyland, and the three friends are together again. But there's more trouble ahead: The events of Book 4 left September as Queen of Fairyland, and now she has to defend her crown in a race whose rules are mostly a secret and change without warning. If she wins, she gets to stay in Fairyland forever -- but can't go home. If she loses, she goes home and never sees Fairyland again. Just about every character and subplot ever seen in the Fairyland series makes at least a cameo appearance in this epic finale. Meanwhile, in a new development, September's parents and aunt are in Fairyland looking for her.
Is it any good?
Wringing tears from the sternest eye, dispensing offbeat wisdom, and delighting souls at every turn, Catherynne M. Valente brings it all home in the satisfying conclusion of September's adventures. As with previous Fairyland installments, the style and cosmology are lush, imaginative, and wacky, and you quickly realize it's best to surrender to the narrator, who's effortlessly in control however much things may appear to be running off the rails. THE GIRL WHO RACED FAIRYLAND ALL THE WAY HOME wraps the many plot threads up nicely -- and leaves the door open just a bit, because, as the narrator reminds us:
"Endings are rubbish. No such thing. Never has been, never will be. There is only the place where you choose to stop talking. Everything else goes on forever."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Fairyland series. How does it compare with other books about human kids in a fairy tale world? Do you have any favorites among those stories?
If you and your friends were on a quest to find something in a strange universe, who would be good at what -- and how might that come in handy?
If you're confronted with a problem you have no idea how to solve (as is September, who doesn't know any Latin and needs to learn some fast), what would you do? When might you ask someone for help? When might you look something up on the Internet? What could go wrong?
- Author: Catherynne M. Valente
- Illustrator: Ana Juan
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: March 1, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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