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

In Book Reviews on November 10, 2013 at 6:00 am
Constable & Robinson Ltd 2012

Constable & Robinson Ltd 2012

‘If you don’t mind my asking, Sir Wind,’ said September after a respectable time had passed, ‘how does one get to Fairyland? After a while, we shall certainly pass India and Japan and California and simply come round to my house again.’

The Green Wind Chuckled. ‘I suppose that would be true if the earth were round.’

‘I’m reasonably sure it is…’

‘You’re going to have to stop that sort of backward, old-fashioned thinking, you know. Conservatism is not an attractive trait. Fairyland is a very Scientifick place. We subscribe to all the best journals.’

This book has been on my tbr list for quite some time now. I saw in the online catalogue that the Barbican Library had it so I looked for it every time I went but could never find it. I looked in all of the children’s sections, even the 10+ section, cringing as I did so. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care if people see me perusing the children’s section. There are some really good children’s books that adults can enjoy. However, for obvious reasons, they become a lot simpler by the time you get to the 10+ section and I was wondering if I would consider a book to be good that is written for that young of an audience.

Because I’ve been looking for it for such a long time, I decided to ask the librarian in the children’s section if he could please help me find it. ‘Oh yes,’ said he. ‘It’s in the 5+ section.’

Me: ‘…’

Now things were just getting silly. Am I open-minded enough to read books from the 5+ section? I tried to ignore his amused look. He got the book for me and, thankfully, declared that it shouldn’t have been filed in that section.

I walked out of the children’s library and immediately picked up a Stephen King novel to balance out the awkwardness.

Nutshell blurb: 12 year-old September catches a ride with the Green Wind to Fairyland. There she has many adventures because she decides to meddle in other people’s affairs. It’s helpful, well-meaning meddling, but meddling all the same.

For those of you who are well past the age where you would consider looking for books in the children’s section, don’t let this deter you from reading this book. It’s a trippy, charming, mental story that enchanted me from the first few pages. It’s quite similar to Alice in Wonderland in that nothing makes sense, yet at the same time it does. There were so many strange and wonderful things that happened to our heroine and her companions. She befriended a Wyverary (a wyvern whose father was a library) and a marid whom she rescued from enslavement. There was an island of antique household items who were bitter about not being treasured and a herd of wild bicycles.

There was no way to even begin to predict the things that would happen to September. The book takes us from one mad situation to another with no way of knowing how she’s going to handle it.

The cover is gorgeous and that is part of the reason I was drawn to it. Yes, I do judge books by their covers.

There’s not much else I can say about this book without spoiling it. If you enjoyed reading Alice and Wonderland, this might just be the book for you. If you have read it, I would love to know what you think about it.

I shall definitely make my way to the children’s section to get the next one.

  1. I love trippy, mental, children’s stories! This sounds great!

  2. I could never be ashamed of reading children’s books, some of the best stories are found in that section. But I love that you picked up a Stephen King as well to balance it out!

  3. I read this and loved it and know so many bloggers who love Valente – so you’re definitely not on your own with this one (children’s book or not). I like that you went and picked up a King book though (just for balance).
    Lynn πŸ˜€

    • Oh excellent! I’m glad I finally know someone else who’s read it. I think that the fact that it’s a children’s book will deter a lot of adults, but they would definitely miss out.

      I’m usually not that self-conscious, but I felt really silly in that section. πŸ™‚

      • I can imagine what you mean! I usually order my books from the library – that way they get put on a shelf reading for collection and nobody knows I’m reading children’s books (tahdah). I must confess though that I don’t really care anyway – Pullman’s trilogy, the Graveyard book, Alice in Wonderland, Oz, The Hobbit – why should the kids have all the fun!!
        Lynn πŸ˜€

      • Haha! That’s a great way to do it! Although my libraries charge a fee for each book you reserve. I’m also on the lookout for Howl’s Moving Castle, so I’ll be visiting the children’s section many times to come. πŸ˜€

  4. Reading the first part of your post was so fun/funny for me; I work in a Children’s Library and a day doesn’t go by where I don’t pick up a 5+ book! My boss & I like to say “We’re juvenile,” and wear it like a badge. πŸ˜‰ It definitely doesn’t belong in the 5+ section, though. I don’t even think it belongs in the 10+. That’s one of the biggest questions I have with this series, actually. Who do I tell to read it? Is it YA? Is it Adult Fiction for very quirky Grown-Ups? I’d love to hear what a 10 year old who’s read it thought!

    If you get to the end of the Fairyland books and you just can’t get enough, and you decide you want another beautifully-written, complex, magical Children’s story, I recommend you try Lauren Oliver’s “Liesl & Po.” So good! I almost named a pet after one of its characters. It’s lyrical, and lush, and sparse, and haunting, and hopeful all at once!

    I hope you keep enjoying these!

  5. I haven’t read this one yet, but as a library-worker, I do pick up books from any part of the library — and enjoy them! For something a little more sci-fi, maybe a smidge more grounded but in the same vein from what it seems, I enjoyed The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi and would certainly recommend it when you’re in the mood for something wide-eyed and young.

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