Review: The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
by Catherynne M. Valente
Published: Feiwel & Friends, imprint of Macmillan (October 1, 2013)
Recommended Reading Age: 10 & up
In a Nutshell: There is nothing quite like finding a book that speaks to you in a way no others ever have. That’s how I feel about Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series.
September is waiting. Waiting away her days for the moment she can return to Fairyland to see her friends, the Wyverary, A-through-L (Ell) and the Marid boy, Saturday. Now fourteen years old, she is quickly slipping from childhood. She is growing in stature and is learning to drive, yet it seems every waking hour her thoughts are occupied by Fairlyand. Over a year has passed since her return, so she waits and waits and waits to be whisked away once again.
Instead of being escorted as she envisioned, September comes across a rip in the seam, so to speak, between Fairyland and her world in Omaha, Nebraska. While driving her neighbor’s Model A (which is similar to riding a wyvren), she meets a Lineman and her greyhound mending a hole in the Line that separates Fairyland from the world September was born into. Despite the Lineman and the greyhounds efforts, a Blue Wind and flock of puffins snuck through all of a sudden and took the Model A with them back into Fairyland. September, determined not to give up the chance to return, followed them by leaping through the crack before the Lineman could stop her.
And so the adventures begin once again. This time our September finds herself to be a titled Criminal on a journey to the moon which reveals another quest to save Fairyland yet again. And I’m afraid, my friends, of saying too much more for fear I will reveal too much. The third in the Fairyland series, I found myself as nervous about reading this most recent addition as I was the sequel, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led Revels There. The first of the series, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is easily one of the best (if not the best) children’s books I have ever read in the middle grade genre. So, I went into reading the second book with hesitance for fear that it would not hold a candle to the first, but it stood firmly on it’s own two feet, not needing the support of the first book. It was exquisite. Silly me to have those same feelings rise up again in my chest when handed the third edition earlier this year. I should have known better.
The theme of time ripples throughout this tale. Time as a separator, a shape-shifter, as a measure of one’s fate, and how one can defy it with the choices we make to take charge of our own destiny. The main takeaway after reading this book was how it touches upon so many elements that exist in our non-Fairyland world; things such as money, family, age, relationships. When placed in the context of the world and characters of Fairyland, it reveals powerful revelations such that both young people and us grown folk will walk away more enlightened.
Reading Cayherynne M. Valente is like having desert before dinner. Once you have your triple chocolate mouse torte, or a slice of ginger peach pie, dinner seems suddenly less appealing. After reading the rich prose in The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, it took me awhile to transition into reading other books. All the Fairyland books are THAT good. Looking forward in 50 years, I truly believe this series will sit on the same pedestal as fantasy revolutionaries such as The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland.
Extras: Below are a few of Ana Juan’s chapter illustrations featured in The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two including a glimpse of the moon yeti. I included the captions of the chapter titles the art corresponds to.
Where There’s a Whelk There’s a Way: In Which September Walks on the Moon, Is Accused of Sundry Wickedness by a Lobster and Two Jackals, Hails a Crab, and Meets a Very Unusual Mollusk.
The Yeti’s Paw: In Which September Learns of the Foibles of Fairies, Shirks Her Work (but Only Briefly), and a Very Speedy Yeti Makes Trouble for Everyone.
Also, if you’re a librarian, library-type, or library lover, please enjoy the transcript of Catherynne M. Valente’s speech, “We Are All Wyveraries: A Love Letter to Libraries” for a School Library Journal function back in 2013. I’ve read it at least six or seven times. It’s magical.
More info about Catherynne Valente and her books can be found on her website HERE.
Source of book reviewed: Advanced Reader’s Copy from the publisher.