Review of Catherynne M. Valente’s “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making”

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The first time I read Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making, I loved it. I loved it when September first met A-L, the Wyverary, when she was bathed by the soap golem, when September, Saturday, and A-L met Calpurnia and Penny Farthing and rode the Velocipedes, when September met the Tsukumogami (100-year-old objects), and the end, when the Marquess revealed her story and September returned home.

The second time I read it, I still liked those parts. I also felt, though, that the book dragged in places, especially when it was describing a place in great detail. Sometimes I even felt I would need a break from fantasy after rereading it, but now, after reading it a second time, I want to read its sequel!

I think I know why I felt it dragged in places, though. When I first read the book, it was new and exciting. I loved every minute of it. It wasn’t until I reread it that I found it dragged in places and I sometimes got tired of reading the chapters that weren’t my favorites. For this reason, I think this book is wonderful for anybody reading it the first time. The second time it can be a little tedious, since everything in it is complicated. Almost every chapter presents the reader with new information, which can make the story very confusing, even for someone who has read it before. It is hard to remember all that information! The first time, this confusion was wonderful and entertaining; the second time, it got tedious at times. This is why I think if the children reading this book are anything like me, they will love it the first time, but it might not become their favorite that they read again and again. Not every book can be that way for everybody.

At first I thought this book was similar to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, since both are about an ordinary child exploring a fantasy world. Now that I’ve read it a second time, though, I can see that it’s more like Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, since for both of those books, the fantasy world has its own abnormal events going on that the protagonist gets involved with. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice is mostly just exploring the everyday events of Wonderland. I haven’t read L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz; I have only seen the movie (and what American hasn’t?). Please don’t give anything away about the book; I will read it. My guess is that it is similar to The Phantom Tollbooth and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making, in that the protagonist is pulled into the unusual events going on in the fantasy world. I will read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and find out.

 

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