I am obviously not the right audience for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
In a nutshell, a girl named September is at home alone; her mother is at work in a factory and her dad is off at war. The Green Wind shows up at her window and invites her on an adventure in Fairyland. Of course, off she goes. In Fairyland there is off course an evil Marquess she must defeat, but she gathers up a couple a few friends to help her. She also meets all kinds of magical creatures and fantastical places, which is kind of obvious, really , considering it is Fairyland. Adventures and dangers abound.
There must be blood, the girl thought. There must always be blood. The Green Wind said that, so it must be true. It will all be hard and bloody, but there will be wonders, too, or else why bring me here at all? And it’s the wonders I’m after, even if I have to bleed for them. (pg. 36 ARC)
Happily I read it with my daughter Amber (11) who was the perfect person to read it. So first I’ll tell you her opinion. She loved it, said it was one of her favorites. And she is pretty well-read for a to-be sixth grader, so her opinion is worth a lot. I will say September is a compelling character with a unique voice. She’s 12 and sometimes she gets scared, but she loves her friends, is up to the tough tasks. I can see girls relating to her, admiring her tenacity and courage. And who doesn’t like a fantasy land, complete with a friendly wyverary, part wyvern, part library.
I, however, didn’t like it. There came a point where I wanted to be finished with the story already. Just get to end where she and her friends triumph over the Marquess and she has to go back home, because that’s the inevitable ending, right? At first I found the writing lush and descriptive, but it just became too flowery, too wordy. And does everything have to be personified? I got bored, quite frankly.
But like I said, I’m not the right audience. The story has been compared to Alice in Wonderland, a comparison that does ring, but I hate Alice in Wonderland no matter how many times I try to read it. The Phantom Tollbooth, another it has been likened to, was one I started off enjoying and just got tired of, but Amber adored.
Based on Amber’s reaction to it, I would say middle school girls will love this one. For me though, it just didn’t work, although it does have some very quotable passages.
Shoes are funny beasts. You think they’re just clothes, but really, they’re alive. they want things. Fancy ones with gems want to go to balls, big boots want to go to work, slippers want to dance. Or sleep. Shoes make the path you’re on. Change you shoes, change the path. (pg. 187)
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-fashined thinking, you know. Conservatism is not an attractive trait.” …
“The earth, my dear, is roughly trapezoidal, vaguely rhomboid, a bit of a tesseract, and altogether grumpy when its fur is stroked the wrong way! In short, it is a puzzle, my autumnal acquisition, like the interlocking silver rings your aunt Margaret brought back from Turkey when you were nine.” (pg. 5)
The one thing Amber didn’t like about the book was the illustrations by Ana Juan at the beginning of each chapter. She said they were creepy and I have to agree.
Published May 10th 2011 by Feiwel & Friends
Amber: 5 out of 5 stars
Me: 3 out of 5 stars
I received my advance copy from the publisher for review and the above is my honest opinion.