Friday, June 12, 2015

A Fairyland Like Oz and Wonderland

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente

September is a twelve year old girl living in Nebraska during WWII. She's invited to adventure in Fairyland by the West Wind and promptly accepts a quest. Along the way she attracts friends with compassion, kindness, and courage.

It's beautifully written, full of quiet insight, with a rich vocabulary beyond that of many middle grade readers. The tale itself is probably too simple for teenagers, though adults will again recognize its value. I think it's probably best suited for young girls who are reading far above grade level (and their parents). While there are references to smoking, drinking, divorce, and procreation, they all seemed to fit the environment. None of them seemed likely to encourage such behavior in the reader. I would be comfortable sharing this book with my 11 year old son or my 8 year old daughter, though I think my son wouldn't be interested enough to wade through the vocabulary and my daughter wouldn't be able to do so.
But no one may know the shape of the tale in which they move.
I had a difficult time immersing myself in the Fairyland world at first. Though it reflects the traditional fairy tales and books like those of Oz and Wonderland, it's almost an alien world. Only in the last few chapters did I feel comfortable enough to stop imagining the world and simply be in it. Those last few chapters were worth the effort, though! I imagine it would be easier in subsequent books, having already been introduced to much of the world.
I cannot help that readers will always insist on adventures, and though you can have grief without adventures, you cannot have adventures without grief.
Interestingly, September is described in the text as having the dark skin of her father and dark curly hair, which might appeal to minority readers, but the illustrations don't seem to show her as dark.

The title, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, seems unnecessarily unwieldy.

The link above is an affiliate link to Amazon. I borrowed this book from the library.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments make me happy; thanks for speaking up!