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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making  By  cover art

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

By: Catherynne M. Valente
Narrated by: Catherynne M. Valente
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Publisher's Summary

September 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 12-year-old girl, a book-loving dragon, and a strange and almost human boy named Saturday to vanquish an evil Marquess and restore order.

©2011 Catherynne M. Valente (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What listeners say about The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    416
  • 4 Stars
    156
  • 3 Stars
    79
  • 2 Stars
    45
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    30
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    350
  • 4 Stars
    126
  • 3 Stars
    73
  • 2 Stars
    48
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    47
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    389
  • 4 Stars
    129
  • 3 Stars
    74
  • 2 Stars
    26
  • 1 Stars
    21

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The most charming book I have read since childhood

"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 grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one. But, as in their reading and arithmetic and drawing, different children proceed at different speeds. (It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.) Some small ones are terrible and fey, Utterly Heartless. Some are dear and sweet and Hardly Heartless At All. September stood very generally in the middle on the day the Green Wind took her, Somewhat Heartless, and Somewhat Grown."

This book is every fairy tale and children's story and sad and happy and thrilling and scary Disney movie you ever saw, back when you were young enough for Disney movies to be taken at face value and you hadn't learned how to be cynical yet. Catherynne Valente writes with beautiful fairy tale prose that still sounds contemporary, and she balances the zaniness and fantasy of a down-the-rabbit-hole adventure with the darkness of true fairy tales and the lurking shadow of adulthood that only the finest children's authors can blend into a children's story without turning it either absurd or rendering it into something clever, something maybe even fun but not quite timeless. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a story that should become immortal. It should join Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia and yes, Harry Potter on the shelf of books for Every Child in the World.

I don't read much YA, and I read very little MG fiction, but this book won my heart and turned me into that 10-year-old who knew he was reading something wonderful again. If you have kids, read this to them, and if you don't, read it for yourself, because it's clever and subtle enough that even adults will find their hearts touched.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making begins with an ordinary 12-year-old girl named September who is taken by the Green Wind to Fairyland. It's so sudden and arbitrary it takes you a while to realize that Valente is very deliberately telling you right up front: "Yes, this is one of those stories where a child gets whooshed off to a magical world, and I'm not even going to bother making up a warddrobe or a tornado or a letter from Hogwarts to justify it." No, the Green Wind, wearing green jodphurs and with gold-green hair, just up and carries her away. On a leopard.

September, who is an ordinary girl with ordinary levels of intelligence, bravery, compassion, and maturity, then has Adventures. She makes friends. She is scared. She gets hurt. She is betrayed. And she discovers why she was brought to Fairyland. At every step, Valente shows a conscientious awareness of all the stories she is paying homage to -- sometimes she winks at them slyly, sometimes she practically dances them across the page complete with ruby slippers -- but this isn't a rip-off or a copy or a retelling, it's a new story. And September is awesome.

I swear that every child who has ever loved a book, and every adult who has ever been a child who loved a book, will enjoy this.

Cathrynne Valente's narration isn't exactly professional caliber compared to the professionals who narrate most audiobooks, but she does of course know all the places to put emphasis and all the emotions each line is supposed to invoke and she conveys them well, so listening to the author read her own book is, in this case, not a bad experience at all.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Why do authors read their own books?

Would you be willing to try another one of Catherynne M. Valente’s performances?

Nope. I never got through this one. Her voice, frankly, annoyed me so much that I simply couldn't listen for longer than 30 minutes.
The only author I have - so far - been able to hear reading his own book, is Neil Gaiman. Everyone else has been a huge disappointment.

Any additional comments?

The one star for story and for overall might very well be misleading. I never heard more than the first 30 minutes, then I turned it off, since I could not bear listening to the voice any more.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Subpar performance overshadows story

Is there anything you would change about this book?

What is this thinking that the author of a book is somehow the best person to read the book. Not so in this case, AT ALL. The whiny character voices, the growly, too-low reading, the running out of breath before the end of sentences . . . seriously detracting from all else.

Would you recommend The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making to your friends? Why or why not?

not in audio form

How could the performance have been better?

Better reader.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Nurturing your child within

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a really excellent fantasy for everyone who still has a child within. The narration (by the author) is perfect and adds much to the experience. Although not as good as Through the Looking Glass, it is pretty darn good. I enjoyed the characters, the subtle humor and lyric prose. Although slightly dark the spirit is bright and comforting. I wish my daughter was eight years old again. This would make a nice continuing bed time story.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

The narration is bad enough that I won't finish.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

They should have hired a professional to do the narration. The author spoke too fast, needs to work on enunciation and has no skill at verbally bringing the characters to life. Very few authors are also good readers. I am disappointed because I was looking forward to listening to this story.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Why????? did I get a book read by the author!!!!!

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Someone who isn't annoyed by a boring, flavorless voice

How could the performance have been better?

A PROFESSIONAL reader! Why wasn't this done????

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Book is fine, reader is awful

Any additional comments?

The author has destroyed her own work......a beautiful, imaginiative, complex world reduced to cold oatmeal by her own bland voice. So sad. How did the producers let this happen???

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Doesn't live up to the hype

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Nothing would have made this a great listening experience for me. I think this might be a book that is better to read than hear particularly if there are good illustrations. I had hoped from reading the reviews that this would be a children's story that is also pleasant for adults in the vein of Harry Potter. Instead, although the language was pretty and some of the imagery was interesting, it was dull listen. I listened to the book to see if it would be good for my budding avid reader 8-year old niece, but I think the story is just not interesting enough. It does sound much like a traditional fairy tale but it is far too long for that so I think it would be difficult to keep a younger child really interested also.

Would you ever listen to anything by Catherynne M. Valente again?

Maybe - she has a pleasant voice for this type of story, but she is clearly not a professional.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making?

I would cut the dream scene - boring and confusing. I would cut much of the narrative. Fairy tales should rely on imagination and imagination does not require so much detail. The detailed descriptions often slow the plot down too much.

Any additional comments?

This might be an OK experience to read to a young child over several days, but older children and adults will find it rather slow and not terribly engaging.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A Ravishing Romp Around Fairyland

Listening to the audiobook of Catherynne M. Valente reading her young adult novel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (2011), was thoroughly enjoyable. What an extravagant and exuberant book it is, effervescing with the joys of language, imagination, story, and Faerie, and yet grounded by the depth of human experience. Valente's narrator is witty, wise, and sympathetic, and her reading voice enhances her narrator's character perfectly. Although she does not alter her voice much for her different characters (male or female, young or old, human or Fairy, etc.), she gives each of them just the right emotion and intention for their various moods and agendas. Her own nonchalant yet passionate voice invokes a poetess who loves language but does not take herself too seriously.

Listening to the book Ravished me to Fairyland along with the heroine, September, a bored and lonely 12-year-old girl living in Omaha, Nebraska, when out of the blue a Harsh Green Wind carries her off to Fairyland flying on his Leopard of Little Breezes. She soon learns that the inhabitants are not happy under the bureaucratic rule of the Marquess and finds herself forced to go on a quest. September is spunky, sharp, loyal, and sensitive, and when she needs to tell a lie, she says "I want to go home."

Valente playfully and originally uses familiar genre elements like personified winds, fairies, gnomes, gargoyles, witches, golems, werewolves, shadows, and changelings, as well as more unusual ones like Pookas (shapeshifting fairies from Celtic folklore), Glashtyns (horse-headed men from Manx legends), and Nasnas (demonic people with bodies cut vertically in half from Arab mythology). She's on the side of the magical and monstrous.

I chuckled with pleasure to hear Valente rattle off fantastic lists of things like the different dishes at a Spriggan Halloween wedding feast and the different fabrics used in the composition of the buildings of Pandemonium; and to hear her describe the different physical features of her different characters, like the blue-skinned, heavy and slight, whirlpool-tattooed Marid boy Saturday and the Wyverary A-through-L (whose mother was a Wyvern and his father, he believes, a Library), whose "lizardish skin glowed a profound red, the color of the very last embers of the fire" and who smells "like roasting cinnamon and chestnuts"; and to explain things like why children are heartless, why their courages are clean, and why they run faster than the speed of a kiss.

And she's also good at making the reader shiver or sigh or cry, as when the Leopard of Little Breezes growls at September, "We came for you . . . Just you"; Saturday finds a way to avoid having to whip the Velocipedes (wild bicycles) to make them go faster; the Marquess tells her story; and September learns the difference between those mortals who Stumble into Fairyland (via tornado or wardrobe) versus those who are Ravished there (like Persephone or me).

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Real Treasure

I shared this with my 6 and 8 year old children as we traveled to and from school each day. They would always say, "Mom, don't forget your iPod!" because they didn't want to miss out on this story....and neither did I. I'm sure I enjoyed this book as much if not more than my children. It was beautiful in every way: great quick moving plot, unusual and well-developed characters, fantastic imagery and great narration (read by the author). I'm going to have to get the print version now as well because there are parts I want to go back and read over and over again.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Authors should not read their own work.

Unless they're Neil Gaiman.

I eventually got use to the narrator. However, almost ever character sounded the same. Also the reader/narrator has a lilting reading voice that made me feel sleepy.

I bought this audiobook on the recommendation of my niece, who has excellent taste. She read the hard copy. If I had read the hard copy I would have probably liked this book more.

2 people found this helpful