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WINNER BESTest, BRILLIANTest, most EXCELLENTest, YA Novel in HistorYA I know, I know, that comes as a bit of a shocker, what with Potter, Percy and those Hunger Gamers running from all those Sparkly Emos and bumping into Bartimaeus hiding inside His Dark Materials waiting for some Giver of an Abhorsen to find their Wrinkle in Time to send them all back to Wonderland Not to mention that AMAZO Genesis I read earlier this year sorry I couldn t work it in above However, despite all of those mostly special literary achievements, this story by Ms Valente and her amazing protagonist September has concentrated WUP win units per page than any other too young to vote fiction I have ever read The writing, humor, plot, narrative voice, characters, imagination and respect for the reader that this gem of a book shows is something rare and very, very special As I look over my list of all time favorite books of any genre , one element that seems to appear most often is unforgettable prose and a unique voice From Mieville in Perdido Street Station, to McCarthy in No Country for Old Men, to Winslow in Savages and to Gaiman in American Gods, these writers get my pulse up and running and make my brain swell with jealousy and drip envy for the unworldly skills of these master wordsmiths.Well folks, Ms Valante will be buying the next round at the We Write so Amazingly Well That We Make You Feel Stupid and Inadequate pub session The writing in this story is exquisite that it s painful It is descriptive and brilliant, yet humorous and whimsical It is just flawless in what it tries to donamely entertain, enlighten and bring a sense of wonder and joy Those of you that have read previously read Valente s In the Night Garden, knows that she can pen prose like nobody s business and tell a complex yet readable story with nuance and care Here, she has taken that gift, brought it to the YA format and created a new standard in excellence that I hope many try to follow Let me take a quick babble gush break and give you a thumbnail of the plot A young girl in Nebraska gets taken by the Green Wind and his companion, the Leopard of Little Breezes, to Fairyland for an unforgettable adventure Along the way, she ends up meeting fantastical people, creatures and places than you could shake a magic stick at without having said stick turn around look at you and tell you to knock it off Okay, that s enough of the plot as you will be able to explore that creamy nuggety goodness all on your own Let s get back to the writing Here is a scene from the beginning of the bookHow does one get to Fairyland After a while, we shall certainly pass India and Japan and California and simply come round to my house again 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 fashioned thinking, you know Conservatism is not an attractive trait Fairyland is a very Scientifick place We subscribe to all the best journals The Leopard of Little Breezes gave a light roar Several small clouds skipped huffily out of their path The earth, my dear is roughly trapezoidal, vaguely rhomboid, a bit of a tessaract, and altogether grumpy when its fur is stroked the wrong way In short, it is a puzzle, my autumnal acquisitionC monjust say Ahhhhhh In addition to the story itself, Ms Valente does something I really love to see in stories like this that have OMG so much is happening every second that it is hard to keep track of where we are going plots She gives the reader a map of what s coming without spoiling any of the story For example, here is the heading for the second chapter in the book CHAPTER IITHE CLOSET BETWEEN WORLDS In which September Passes Between Worlds, asks Four Questions and Receives Twelve Answers, and Is Inspected by a Customs Officer Thus, we are given hints as to what to look for, but no way of knowing what it means until it happens and at which point we smile, say wow wow wubsy and bask in the warm and fuzzy glow of the awesomeness Oh, and a quick word on the ART The art is terrific and is a perfect compliment to the story For example Just another aspect of this incredible read Before I wrap this up, I want to pay one final compliment to Ms Valente and also to other writers who show great respect for their readers While this is a story that I think YAs will love, I believe that it is the adults, especially those of us that love lush language and witty words, that will enjoy this the most This is because Ms Valente doesn t dumb down her story AT ALL This is a YA book written as much for adults as for YAs kind of like the movie Shrek with all the little adult in jokes The story has a way of making you feel like a younger version of yourself as you read it The story is sometimes dark, but always beautiful There is adventure, pain, bravery, lessons about life and growing up, magic, hardship, sadness, mysteries, laughter, amazing characters and OH, THE WRITING Buy this bookread the book.love the bookre read this book 6.0 Stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION P.S I listened to the audio version read by the author and she was absolutely amazingI mean amazing If you have a chance to experience it..DO The first two pages and I m in love It s going on the must buy list, as well as the must give list.The Girl sets all fairy tale conventions on their heads while managing to retain the spirit and charm of the best In the tradition of the door in the hedge fantasy, the trip through the closet into Fairyland is inventive and whimsical Valente perhaps pokes fun at times, but always gently you will either perish most painfully or be forced to sit through a very tedious tea service with several spinster hamadryads The heroine is a bit unconventional but not exactly drowning in misery she washed the same pink and yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow and had a mother bending over a stubborn airplane engine in her work overalls, her arm muscles bulging Right there, you know it won t be traditional, but nor will it be grim modern, with boys locked under staircases, mothers with drug problems, or orphaned children scavenging food Yet it still explores the core emotional issues of independence, identity, fear, and love, while acknowledging the place children come from is not all kindness and cookies One ought not to judge her All children are heartless They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb tall trees and say shocking things and leap so very high that grown up hearts flutter in terror Hearts weigh quite a lot That is why it takes so long to grow one Swooning continued as I read Valente tells beautiful word smithy tales A Wyvern named A Through L his father is the Library deserves the award for Best Fantasy Sidekick of the Year There s even a list of reasons why Thirdly, being French in origin, they have highly refined tastes and are unlikely to seek out unsavory things to eat, such as knights gallbladders or maidens bones They much prefer a vat or two of truffles, a flock of geese, and a lake of wine, and they will certainly share Of course, since they are French.After finishing, I was mentally working out my review as I swam, and discovered I had trouble analyzing why I enjoyed this book so much I went home, picked up the book again, opened to a page and found myself saying, oh, I loved this part, only to follow it with, and this phrasing and exclamations of and look how she characterizes That s the kind of book it is something you remember loving and enjoying, even when you can t quite identify why, and then when you are immersed in it again, it all becomes crystal clear.Like a fantasy world When you are born your courage is new and clean You are brave enough for anything crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like By the time you re half grown, your courage barely moves at all, it s so grunged up with living Cross posted at My favorite thing about this book is, of course, Wyverary A Through L What s a wyverary, you ask Well, when a wyvern and a library love each other very very muchblush you know the spiel But do I sense some skepticism, my cynical friends Do you maybe insist on thinking there is an infinitely prosaic explanation for the existence of Wyverary, an alphabetizing loving fire breathing half library Let him rebuke your doubts himselfSeptember, really Which do you think is likely That some brute bull left my mother with egg and went off to sell lonemozers, or that she mated with a Library and had many loved and loving children I mean, let us be realisticThis is a cute and whimsical story of a pre teen Nebraska girl September born in May, actually who eagerly leaves the world where her father is fighting in a war and her mother is building airplanes, and sets out for Fairyland Where, as she soon learns, things are not all that she had thought they d be There is violence, and slavery, and pain, and abandonment, and cruelty, and bureaucracy I believe I am sick to death of hearing what is and is not allowed What is the purpose of a Fairyland if everything lovely is outlawed, just like in the real worldAlong the way, September meets the aforementioned Wyverary, a wish granting Marid, the evil Marquess, spoonless witches, queenless soap golem, migrating velocipedes, and a jacket that is eager to please, among others Along the way, she loses her heart, her shadow, her friends, and a great deal of her innocence And finds much than she lost or bargained for Oh, September Such lonely, lost things you find on your way It would be easier, if you were the only one lost But lost children always find each other, in the dark, in the cold It is as though they are magnetized, and can only attract their like If you would only leave cages locked and turn away from unloved Wyverns, you could stay Heartless But you are stubborn, and do not listen to your eldersThis story is marketed for children, but I think it takes an adult to fully appreciate the scope of this story as well as many or less subtle adult hints scattered throughout The book is permeated with the nostalgia for childhood and innocence, and you can truly appreciate this nostalgia only after you have left your childhood behind.The writing and the plotting of this book reminded me of a hybrid between the creations of Lewis Carroll with less whimsy , Terry Pratchett but less firmly grounded in the unreal reality , and Neil Gaiman with less of the trademark matter of fact coolness At first I thought it was trying too hard to be cute and self aware, a bit too flowery, with overly precocious allegories and endless whimsy Example You ll know it right away, it s a big wooden spoon, streaked with marrow and wine and sugar and yogurt and yesterday and grief and passion and jealousy and tomorrow. But the writing grew on me as I continued with the story, and I came to love the fluidity of language and the beauty and lyricism of Valente s apt descriptions The plot moves along smoothly and in determined fashion much like September does through the FairylandAs for our heroine September she is pretty cool and awesome She is kind and resourceful and brave and stubborn and spirited But I must admit I did not care for her as much as I did for Gaiman s Coraline or Pratchett s Tiffany Aching but in all honesty, those characters are hard to compete with I cared for her quest than for her But the supporting characters truly shine That s the way I m made I have to keep going, always, and even when I get where I m going I ll have to keep on. The strange and somewhat broken Fairyland has won me over I recommend this book to everyone who loves to exercise their imagination with a bot of whimsy Plus, you will get to meet my favorite Wyverary 4.5 stars, and it is placed on my For my future hypothetical daughter shelf Stories have a way of changing faces They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble. My review for the second September book, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, is over here, by the way. Rating 3.5 starsThis was so imaginative and whimsical, it is certainly a fun read with wonderful characters I found it to lag a little in the middle, so it a slower read despite the length of the book. ( DOWNLOAD EPUB ) ☹ The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making ♟ This Is A Kind Of The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz By Way Of Alice S Adventures In Wonderland It S The Sort Of Book One Doesn T Want To End Publisher S Weekly, Starred ReviewSeptember Is A Girl Who Longs For Adventure When She Is Invited To Fairyland By A Green Wind And A Leopard, Well, Of Course She Accepts Mightn T You But Fairyland Is In Turmoil, And It Will Take One Twelve Year Old Girl, A Book Loving Dragon, And A Strange And Almost Human Boy Named Saturday To Vanquish An Evil Marquess And Restore Order This 5 review has been moved to This book just wasn t for me The writing style is so different, so whimsical, so fancy, that I can tell the author had a lot of fun stretching her vocabulary to the utmost and rolling around and playing in it till it came out in wonderfully wrapped paragraphs and pages But I just didn t like it There are so much things I had to remember, keep track of, and all that stuff that I just got so lost and became disinterested.Don t get me wrong, the world building is creative and all sorts of fabulous It s got humor, funky creatures, and all sorts of cool stuff we all love But it s kinda hard to visualize For me, anyway.There s even threads of deeper themes in the book Such as even though things seem wonderful on the outside, they may not be when one looks closer at it The maturation and growth of one leaving childhood and learning about the hardships of the world The things a girl lacks and then wants may actually be what she has in bountiful measures even though she can t readily see it so clearly.All this stuff But I just wasn t into the story I think it s the case of right book, wrong reader I m quite sure this book will have its scores of readers and that one shouldn t be deterred by my review They should, of course, pick the book up themself and see if it s for them or not.I tried, I really tried I got than 150 pages through this book and once I realized that I just didn t care or connect with the characters and had begun skimming I knew it was time to put the book down Sad I couldn t like it but I guess that s how the world of books go. I am generally one for simple, blunt truth My brain doesn t like to decipher complex and ornate metaphors and I hate reading through layer upon layer of language I m usually just waiting for the author to get to the point. But then, something like this comes along and just makes me question everything that I thought I knew about myself The writing here is highly imaginative and odd and funny and a bit absurd It s descriptive and clever and maybe occasionally just a bit fussy But, all this shine and glimmer and show has some real substance underneath it And honestly I liked the shine and glimmer most of the time There isn t one page of this book that I couldn t pull a gorgeous quote from Ms Valente certainly does get to the point and the point is real, honest, emotion and a gorgeous coming of age story.September is a twelve year old girl who finds her life dull and tedious, and so, when the Green Wind flows in one day with a flying Leopard to take her off to Fairyland, she goes without a thought She doesn t even spare a goodbye for her parents, who are both rather missing in her life anyway In Fairyland she initially gets swept up in novelty and adventure, as she meets glorious new friends and takes on a random quest But she soon realizes that all is not well the Marquesse reigns, imposing strict taxes, restrictions, and bureaucracy on every citizen The similarities to Alice in Wonderland are evident, but this book also makes little nods to many other notable fantasy series And I seriously doubt Alice would ever fashion her own boat out of fairy drift scepters and then sail it bald and in the nude The writing reminds me of Neil Gaiman, or I think that if China Mieville had a sweet, optimistic little sister she might write a book like this However, even with all of these nods, this book feels inventive and original.I do love fantasy that s character driven and relatable, but sometimes I really crave fantasy like this where everything is brand new I want to think about what it might be like to be born half a person, or created out of soap I want to imagine that I can have my courage cleaned and find a jacket that loves me and cares for me I want to know what kind of adventures my shadow would get up to if we were ever separated.But even with all of these oddities and inventions, this book has a strong undercurrent of the real September s growth and loss of innocence is so painful and so wonderful I felt so much sympathy for Lye, left all alone without instruction, or Saturday, who must always be forced to submit And I laughed with A through L, the stalwart wyvern library hybrid But the most affecting of all turned out to be someone I least expected view spoiler Wow The Queen Mallow Marquesse story really moved me I felt so betrayed and bitter on her behalf That whole part is just brilliant hide spoiler This is a portal fantasy in the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tradition, where a young girl goes to a magical land and tries to Right What s Wrong Twelve year old September, bored with her life and washing pink and yellow teacups and dealing with mostly absent parents, gets talked into a trip to Fairyland by the Green Wind, who settles her into the saddle of his flying leopard and whisks her away to new adventures Because like most children September is or less Heartless, she doesn t tell her mother good bye or leave her a note She finds some delightful and magical friends and is reluctantly pulled into a quest by the cruel ruler of Fairyland, the Marquess And September begins to grow a heart, which can be a painful process, especially if you are fated to lose it.It s extremely fantastical and whimsical, and it was a little too much for me when I sat down and tried to read it straight through, but when I started reading it in smaller doses, with breaks in between, the delightfulness resurfaced This would be a fun read aloud book with children who are old enough to handle some painful scenes where characters get badly hurt It s ultimately a very uplifting story with a good underlying message You are not the chosen one, September Fairyland did not choose you you chose yourself You could have had a lovely holiday in Fairyland and never met the Marquess, never worried yourself with local politics, had a romp with a few brownies and gone home with enough memories for a lifetime s worth of novels But you didn t You chose You chose it all Reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is kind of like this and this with a little of this P.S I highly recommend the prequel short story, The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland For a Little While It s free online at Tor.com, and it s a great way to test the waters and see if this series is likely to appeal to you.Art credits growing up, i loved the Oz books the Baum ones, at least i read all of them multiple times i think there are 14 or so and have enjoyed rereading them here and there as an adult i love how the fancifulness and frequent absurdity of Baum s creations are anchored down by prosaic reality i love their no nonsense child heroines and occasional heroes precocious but never precious, cute but never cutesy poo i love the transparency of Baum s prose, the layering of meaning and metaphor, the use of genuine tragedy, the light touch, the wisdom of it all so it is a happy thing and one of the highest compliments that i can imagine giving when i say that reading Girl Who Circumnavigated brought me right back to that enchanting feeling of reading a classic Oz book.Valente is a marvel with language i knew she could write like a mad poet after reading the amazing In the Night Garden less expected was her ability to smooth down and simplify her lush style so that it is perfectly tailored for a children s novel it loses no lustre in the transition reading Valente s prose reminds me of looking through my window at a light rain falling on an otherwise bright day, the sun and water making a painting of the world, images seen through the droplets of rain rolling down glass lovely the character of The Girl Who Circumnavigates is instantly familiar from any number of Oz books her sensible and at times irritable nature, the depth of her feelings, her forthright way of navigating the places through which she wanders she is a classic type, but never a tiresome one her attachment to her new friends is adorable, but never corny or mawkish i love the brave moments when she considers returning home but almost instantaneously rejects that cowardly path and when she finally builds that Ship of Her Own Making my gosh, that was wonderful much internal cheering ensued.Valente makes the adventure a pleasure from beginning to end her use of irony is constant and sweetly good hud, never heavy handed, suitable for kids but thoroughly adult as well equally sophisticated is her use of symbol and metaphor, her smooth incorporation of various mythologies and mythological creatures, and especially her entirely original conception of the novel s arch villain so appalling, so tragic, so understandable poor child and any children s fantasy that features the parallel saga of a brave loyal Key, a strikingly sinister Shadow of a Little Girl about to run off on its own strange journey, a helpful industrious Smoking Jacket, two Witches married to an elegant little male Witch Wair Wolf, and most of all a genuinely touching loveable Wyvern well, i am that novel s true friend.