Thursday, April 9, 2015

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

Cover image for The girl who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own makingAn 11 year old girl, September, is invited by a wind and a green leopard to leave her deary home and visit Fairyland. While in fairyland she meets friends, like a trio of fortune telling witches, and a lady made all out of soap, a dragon that is half library, and a sea sprite.  She also meets villains, the worst of which is the ruler of fairyland, the Marquess.  Can September find her way through fairyland, save her friends, and return home unscathed? 

This is a very trippy book!  It sounds like it was, like Alice in Wonderland, written with the help of illicit stimulants. Not only are the characters and places September encounters amazingly fanciful, but the language is mind bogglingly random, and very self-consciously philosophical.  Here is an excerpt:  "She once saw an orange parrot in the pet store and had never wanted anything so much in her life. She would have named it Halloween and fed it butterscotch. Her mother said butterscotch would make a bird sick and, besides, the dog would certainly eat it up. September never spoke to the dog again — on principle.” I almost didn't keep going with it.  But I did, and many of the lines have a wry kind of wisdom to them.  Valente's is a harsh, unforgiving view of the world, but not unhopeful.  I don't know.  It was exhausting to read, and way too heady for most kids.  It is the kind of thing an English major in college might enjoy, and quote a lot. I don't think I will try the sequel. 

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