Monday, July 25, 2011

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) by Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrator)

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)

Good Reads Summary

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.  With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

My Thoughts

What did I just read?

The matter of fact manner in which the tale is told should have made things come across as droll. It was all very "this is this" and "that is that." Except this could have just have been a Wyvern or a witch or a wairwolf and that could just have been the Marquess, or an enchanted key or a flying leopard. But the manner in which it was told could not detract from how exciting/different (albeit confusing) September's adventure was. So, girl on a quest it was! The why's and the how's and the where's and the who's are where all the details and layers came in. But despite what I initially took to be the matter of fact tone, nothing was ever simple.

Once I got used to things, I recognized that she's got a way with words. She does not spoon feed a reader by simplifying things. The characters, the story, the humor all required thinking and imagination. Her descriptions of what is and what was were all humorous and quite original. My personal favorite bits were on being young and having courage: to be young is to be heartless; something September was told more than once but took to... uhh, heart quite slowly,

"When you are born your courage is new and clean,. You are brave enough for anything: Crawling off of stair cases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk, and crusty things, and fear, and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feeels like."

She writes smart. She manages all at once to entertain me and make me think and finally make me feel. A word of advice though, be patient and read slow. Otherwise, you risk missing out on something, every other page has got either a funny or a true moment. So slow it down. If this were a meal, it most definitely isn't fast food. It's a fairy tale/adventure: she is whisked from Nebraska to Fairy Land on the back of flying leopard. Once there, September had a choice of losing her way, her life ,her mind, or her heart..Guess what the eleven year old picked. I loved that she was so young and naive because it's both these qualities that have her adventure turning into something almost like Alice's, except September was a smidge more proactive.


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