Age Group: Middle-Grade
Pub Date: May 2011
I first came by this book while I was walking along in Foyles. It immediately caught my eye with its deliciously illustrated cover and eccentric cover, but unsure, I walked on.
I couldn't get it out of my head though. There was something intriguing in the long name I couldn't quite remember, the vague promises of travelling to a faraway land, and eventually I gave in and bought it on my kindle. Best decision I made.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a throwback to the time of fairytales with underlying commentary of a modern society. Toss in some lovely illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, and you have a book that will entertain all ages.
The story is about September, a lonely girl who get's whisked away to Fairyland, where she sets out to retrieve a wooden spoon from the Marquess, and then gets entangled in a plot created by the Marquess herself. On her journey she meets Ell the wavererly (a cross between a wyvery and a library, don't ask), an utterly funny character. She stumbles across fairyland, encountering all sorts of creatures, which is told through a brilliantly self-aware narrator voice.
On the surface, this book may remind you of Alice in Wonderland (which I have to say, was the book of my childhood). However, where AiW was a book purely for the story, and without the meaning or morals that came with books of that era, TGWCFiSoHOM (too long?) is teeming with them. Whether it's commenting on the loss of childhood innocent and the cruelty of children and childhood, or death and the future, or indeed modern society with its layers of bureaucracy that disguise the people in powers hidden motives, TGWCF (better?) has meaning to it.
And that makes it special.
I think Valente wrote the book with the idea that parents would read it with their children, thus layering the meaning under the fun, but as a teenager I would recommend it too. It was nice, reading a book where a message could be conveyed in an entertaining way that wasn't layered with sex, drugs and violence. And even without all of that, it remained just as thought-provoking
Sum It Up: A brilliant take on a fairy tale that will enrapture all ages. Totally amazing!