Read by Catherynne M. Valente
Length: 7 Hrs 17 Min
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale
Quick Thoughts: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making is a wondrous magical journey full of camaraderie and adventure and all the things that will make your inner child sing out with joy. Valente has created the rare classic that adults will look forward to reading to their children.
I truly hope that I am never too old for fairy tales. Sure, by all accounts I am well past the age where we are encouraged to put away childish things, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feed that inner child of mine on occasion. I never want to be at a point where I am not fascinated by the fantastic. I want to believe that somewhere there is a land where animals talk, inanimate objects can spring to life and fly, and little orphaned boys and girls can grow up to become great rulers. I don’t always need reality. I live in reality and it’s seldom as gritty or interesting as many of my favorite authors make it out to be. For me, I like to escape in my reading, travel places I would never travel in my real life, even if those places contain evil tricksters and wicked witches. My favorite type of fantasy has always been portal fantasy. I love stories where people are stolen away from our reality and sent to a world where the physical rules are different. As a kid, I searched out lonely wardrobes and dreamed of tornados that would take me to Oz. Even as an adult, I followed wielders of white gold into strange worlds, and took on quests searching for Dark Towers. Somewhere, deep inside of me, I know I may finally open that door and find a wind from another land blowing on my face.
One of the things I love about "end of year" best of lists is they always fill up my "To Be Listened To" list. With Christmas around the corner, I’ve been looking for lighter, fun spirited books to listen to. Reading one bloggers list, lead me to a book I had heard of, but never really took a serious look at before, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. I am really glad to have taken the leap and gave this novel a listen, and the Holiday season was the perfect time to do it. Valente’s tale follows a young irascible girl named September who is pulled from her droll life by a Green Wind, and flies on the back of a Leopard to Fairyland. This novel is exactly the kind of story that takes me back to my childhood. It is full of magical beings, humor, adventure and a likeable heroine that I feel people can really relate with. What I love about portal fantasy is experiencing the wonders of a new land through a character who is also experiencing it as new. I often get frustrated when character instantly adjust to the new surrounding, seemingly knowing the lands rules and history as if they are a life long resident. Here September is as amazed and often as clueless as the listener themselves and it makes the experience even better. My favorite part of the novel though, is the conspiratorial tone of the narrative. The narrator becomes an active part of this novel, often time playing with the listener in wonderful ways. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making is a wondrous magical journey full of camaraderie and adventure and all the things that will make your inner child sing out with joy. Valente has created the rare classic that adults will look forward to reading to their children.
I am often skeptical when an author narrates their own work. Sometimes I wonder if it’s due hubris or a need to control things that is the motivation behind it, rather than the desire to put out the best possible product. Yet, with the tone of the narrative, and Catherynne M. Valente’s rich voice, I wouldn’t want to experience this book any other way. Valente reads with such love for her characters that it shines through in every word. She seems to thrill is sharing secrets with the listener, where you can’t help but feel a bond with this novelist narrator. Her voice is never sickeningly sweet or flawlessly robotic, but full of life with the comforting tones of a natural storyteller. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is a quick listen, just perfect for this season of hustle and bustle, and may just brightened your mood as you fight other mall patrons for the last LeapPad.