Tag Archives: fairytale

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own MakingWhen a Green Wind arrives at the kitchen window offering to take September to Fairyland, she puts aside her washing up and climbs straight onto his Leopard to fly away and seek adventure. When she arrives at Fairyland, she discovers that a wicked Marquess is ruling by terror- fairies and dragons are banned from flying, witches who displease her are being killed and children are being selected at random to be sacrificed as a tithe to the Glashtyn. With the aid of a Wyvern (who thinks his father was a library) and a Marin, September sets out to set Fairyland to rights. But will she succeed? And will she ever make it home?

Reading this book, I began to suspect that my copy had magic powers. It seemed to be circumnavigating my house, aided by some mysterious force. Whenever I put it down, I would find that it had moved by the time I came back to it. And it found the most cunning places to hide…

These vanishing acts were the only thing about the book that I found unsatisfactory. Otherwise, it was a great book to read as my first book of 2013.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making is the first book in a planned series of five by Catherynne M Valente, and having read the first, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. It has all the makings of a brilliant cross over novel which will appeal to both children and adults- great characters, a strong plot and a seemingly simple but hilariously knowing narrative. Fairyland was charming and enticing while retaining a sufficient threat of danger beneath the surface, and even though this is a book which would make a great bedtime story for children aged eight and up, there were moments when I felt genuinely anxious for September and her motley crew.

I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led The Revels There, which is released in the UK this month.

Catherynne M Valente has also written a prequel to the series The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland- For  A Little While.

What-the-Dickens by Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is probably best known for his Wizard of Oz spin off, which despite its flair, owes some of its fame to the cult status of The Wizard of Oz and the runaway success of the musical version of the book, Wicked. However, in his modern fairytale What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy, Maguire shows that he has the ability to craft his own fantasy world securely within the familiar confines of our own.

Ten year old Dinah waits with her big brother, little sister and adult cousin for her parents who have left the house during a deadly storm to find insulin. Their neighbours homes have been evacuated, but the family’s strong religious conviction has made them attempt to weather it out. With little food and no power, their older cousin Gabe tells a story to pass the time.

The story, he says, is a true one which happened to him during his child hood, and explains how What-the-Dickens, an orphaned skibbereen, or tooth fairy to you and me, comes to find his place in life, facing deadly challenges and making friends along the way.

Even as an adult I found the story charming and funny. If I was still teaching, I would include it in a scheme of work for 11-13 year olds. It’s an excellent starting point for exploring fairytales and mythology, as the modern setting takes us away from the traditional men-in-tights-and-women-in-need-of-a-bloody-good-haircut scenarios children expect from a fairytale. It’s also a lovely little tale about culture, identity and self belief.

If you have a small person between the ages of 9 and… well I refuse to stick an upper age limit on it, then you should get this book for them. Read it yourself first though!