The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

“This is for washing your wishes, September,” said Lye, breaking off another of her fingers with a thick snap. [Lye is a golem made of soap and her fingers grow back] “For the wishes of one’s old life wither and shrivel like old leaves if they are not replaced with new wishes when the world changes. And the world always changes. Wishes get slimy, and their colors fade, and soon they are just mud, like all the rest of the mud, and not wishes at all, but regrets. The trouble is, not everyone can tell when they ought to launder their wishes.”

This dreamlike tale is fit for adults and children alike. Nearly every page dances with playful wisdom. I suspect every time you read it, the text would provoke more reflection.

Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink and yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same amiable dog…

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making makes far more sense than Alice in Wonderland, and is much more poetic and richer than The Wizard of Oz. It is the first of a trilogy (I have not read the other two yet) and is full of language that longs to be read out loud. It is layered like a rich dessert with playful wisdom and reflection on life. The artwork by Ana Juan hints and teases the way the very best of children’s book imagery can – tugging at those forgotten children’s longings.

This book features lots of strong girls and women, but should be just as entertaining for boys. There is a quest of course, and rather disturbing happenings. And bravery and persistence. It is perfect for the adventurous child inside your home whatever their chronological age is.

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