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

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Who has read Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making?
#1 - May 26, 2014, 08:43 AM

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I listened to it on audiobook.  :love4:


Almost didn't - when it first started I thought - what the heck is this? Not my usual genre. But I'm so glad I had a long drive that day, and once I got past the first few chapters, I was smitten. It has stuck with me for a while.
#2 - May 26, 2014, 10:01 AM
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I know what you mean.  I was smitten, too, when I started reading it.  That was almost immediately after I received it as a Christmas gift  from my cousin two years ago.
I think it's a really good story of the "ordinary person explores fantasy world" type.  September of course has two classic sisters in that genre: Dorothy of the Oz books and Alice of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  For me, it's nice to see that this sort of story still works nowadays.  What do you think?
#3 - May 26, 2014, 12:49 PM

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I had to do a readability analysis of this book at work....what stuck with me was the title, which I absolutely  :fireworks .



#4 - May 26, 2014, 06:44 PM

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The title is certainly an attention grabber, but I prefer simpler titles.
Please share more opinions on this book.
#5 - May 26, 2014, 07:15 PM

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Please share your favorite parts of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.  I will reread the book and share mine.
#6 - May 26, 2014, 07:30 PM

I remembered that I really enjoyed this book at the time. It reminded me of Wizard of Oz, but with a modern twist.
I liked how it made fun of fantasy tropes of this genre at times, and I especially enjoyed the end/climax.
I think there's supposed to be a sequel, but I haven't read it.
#7 - May 27, 2014, 09:10 PM
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What was the lullaby?  I remember being struck by how gorgeous it was.  I would have loved to hear it sung.
#8 - June 06, 2014, 08:43 AM

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Okay!  I just finished rereading Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making. In terms of favorite parts, I love the end, both after September returns home and when the Marquess is revealing her story.  I also like the part where she meets the Tsukumogami (100-year-old objects), when they meet Calpurnia and Penny Farthing and ride the Velocipedes, when September is bathed by the soap Golem, and when she first meets A-Through-L.   

On second read, though, I thought the book dragged too slowly in places, especially when it was describing places in great detail.  Sometimes I even felt I would need a break from fantasy after rereading it, but now, after reading it again, I want to read its sequel!
#9 - June 09, 2014, 05:18 AM

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Here is the lullaby:

Go to sleep, little skylark,
Fly up to the moon
In a biplane of paper and ink.
Your wings creak and croon,
borne aloft by balloons,
And your engine is singing for you.
Go to sleep, little skylark, do.

Go to sleep, little skylark,
Fly up past the stars
In a biplane of sunshine and ice,
Past comets and cars, past Neptune and Mars
Still your engine is singing for you.
Go to sleep, little skylark, do.

Go to sleep, little skylark,
Drift down through the night
In your biplane of silver and sighs,
Slip under the light,
Come down from the heights
For your mother is singing for you.
Go to sleep, little skylark, do.

I agree, it is a lovely song. 
Everybody, please read my previous post and share more of your thoughts on this book.

#10 - June 09, 2014, 05:24 AM

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I'm in the middle of it right now! When I'm really enjoying a book I tend to read very slowly, so when I found a used copy at a Friends of the Library sale, I bought it right up. I'm taking my time through it, enjoying the adventure, enjoying the references to classic fairy tale literature, and loving how she's subverting a lot of my expectations. If the book holds up through the end, then I'll be looking forward to reading the sequels as well.  ::-)
#11 - September 25, 2014, 11:41 PM

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I'm writing my own self-published fantasy-adventure with a sense of humor, so I figured I should definitely pick this up. I figured I would love it, being in my own genre and target age group, and at the least I could learn from what's currently popular.

I couldn't even get halfway through before I returned it for my money back.

I like a lot of different kind of books, so I'm not trying to complain here, but I did not care for this book at all. There were a lot of clever parts and funny one-liners, sure. But I found the prose so self-referentially "clever", like the author was constantly congratulating herself, or wanted us to see how clever she was being. It didn't feel like a "real" story, but like she was trying to write as someone else (Lewis Carroll, obviously, but let's not get carried away here - she ain't no Carroll). I felt the characters existed only to be wacky, with no underlying purpose, the plot was fairytale-y only on the surface, with none of the heart or meaning beneath, and worst of all, the main character had absolutely no motivation to accomplish this superficial quest she's given by these witches, seemingly only because the author thought a fantasy story needs quests. And it's a loose quest, to be sure. Mostly it's just September wandering from one odd thing to the next, with nothing to add and nothing to take away.

Let this book be a lesson in STAKES. If your main character can walk away from their goal with absolutely no consequences whatsoever, then you've got a problem. Your story is boring. Sure, you might have lots of fantasy-fairy-land imagery and a fancy way with words, but it's all for naught if we don't care whether the protagonist succeeds or fails.

I really wanted to like this! I tried very hard to get into it. You shouldn't have to TRY to get into a fantasy book.
#12 - September 30, 2014, 03:29 AM
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I have to agree with those who loved this book.  I think Valente is a genius.  And in THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH FAIRYLAND she continues the spell she weaves in the first.  I also listened to the third book ... but the title escapes me now.  Something about splitting the moon in two.

I've not read any of Vanete's other work, but these are a wonderful blend of charm and insanity.  What strikes me most is that she breaks the rules of what I keep hearing:  "Write in third person, or first person, and never break the pattern."  Valente sometimes talks to the reader.  And it works.  Or, "Write to the reading level of your audience."  These are meant to be middle-grade books, but she uses a LOT of words that many would consider to be over a middle-grader's head.  Not just words, but references to movies and other books, too. 

I often wondered if we aren't dumbing-down the language for our MG audience, and perhaps we should stretch them a little more instead.
#13 - October 20, 2014, 03:32 PM

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