Tag Archives: Valente (author)

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two Review

The-Girl-Who-Soared-over-Fairyland-and-Cut-the-Moon-in-TwoThe Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente, illustrations by Ana Juan

Feiwel and Friends, 2013. 978-1250023506

Synopsis: September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.  – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I loved the first two books in the series, so I was eager to read the next one.

Why I finished it: Much like September, the reader is yearning to return to Fairyland to spend time with Ell and Saturday, but we soon find that there is more at work than just the mischief of the past. September is older now, and much as we do as we grow older, we wonder if we should be putting our childish ways behind us in order to enter into adulthood, though we long to stay young so that we can still play the same as we have before. She is battling internally with the notion that she may become too old for Fairyland, though her life in the real world means she has to take on more responsibilities now that her father is back from the war. Yet, she is still the same girl that we knew back in the first book that longs to go places and do something more with her life than simply clean teacups. Valente creates for the reader a vivid picture of life on Fairyland’s moon, complete with the odd assortment of creatures that charmed the reader in her first two Fairyland books. The mix between the Victorian and the fantastic is oddly reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, another tale about a girl who finds herself in a world that is not her own, and she has delightfully blended the two worlds together to capture our imaginations once again and leave us wondering where September’s next adventure will take her.

Other related materials: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, illustrations by Ana Juan; The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Lead the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente, illustrations by Ana Juan; The Bread We Eat in Dreams by Catherynne M. Valente, illustrations by Kathleen Jennings; The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente; Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt; The Apothecary by Maile Meloy, illustrations by Ian Schoenherr; The Apprentices by Maile Meloy, illustrations by Ian Schoenherr; The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, illustrated by Tom Harris; The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy, illustrated by Tom Harris; The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell; The Golden Door series by Emily Rodda; How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks, illustrated by Sarah Watts; Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin; The Books of Elsewhere series by Jacqueline West; The Wildwood Chronicles books by Colin Meloy, illustrations by Carson Ellis

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Six-Gun Snow White Review

six_gun_snow_whiteSix-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

Subterranean, 2013. 978-1596065529.

Synopsis: A plain-spoken, appealing narrator relates the history of her parents–a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. With her mother’s death in childbirth, so begins a heroine s tale equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I’m looking forward to reading Valente’s latest book, The Girl Who Soared over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two which comes out in October, and wanted to sample some of her other writing.

Why I finished it: The book started out more or less like I thought it would and then turned and went a drastically different direction halfway through. Valente has skillfully adapted the classic fairy tale to fit in the American Western setting, complete with a narrator whose voice reminds me a lot of Mattie Ross from the Cohen Brothers’ remake of True Grit. The setting provides some thought-provoking moments for the reader, particularly in the chapters dealing with Snow White’s interactions with her Stepmother and the discovery of the magical looking glass. But as Snow White gradually moves off on her own, Valente begins to deviate from the traditional and the story starts to take on a life all its own. Case in point: the narrator briefly discusses the notion of Eastern magic versus Native American magic and the two being different from each other, but some of the element of wonder often associated with magic (in the fantasy sense) gets lost in the background of the gun-slinging setting. For much of the middle of the story, it seems like it takes way too long to get to the point and by the time the reader reaches the end, they are rewarded with a conclusion that felt a little more depressing than it did satisfying. Definitely for older teens because of some of the language and vocabulary, Valente produces an intriguing read that uniquely mixes the European and American storytelling traditions.

Other related materials: Myths of Origin: Four Short Novels by Catherynne M. Valente; The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente; The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente and Ana Juan; The Girl who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Lead the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente and Ana Juan; The Girl Who Soared over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente and Ana Juan; The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb; The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson; Frogged by Vivian Vande Velde

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The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There Review

thegirlwhofellbeneathfairylandThe Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente, Illustrations by Ana Juan

Feiwel and Friends, 2012. 978-0-312-64962-3

Synopsis: September has longed to go back to Fairyland ever since her first adventure came to an end. But when she does return, she finds that not all is well in this land she has come to love. Magic and the shadows are leaving Fairyland-Above and being invited to Fairyland-Below, ruled by Halloween the Hollow Queen, and the only way to make things right again is to wake the sleeping prince at the bottom of the world. So September ventures below to find her friends and to make things right and well again.

Why I picked it up: I loved The Girl Who Circumnavigated and when I found out there was a follow-up, I immediately went to the library to check it out.

Why I finished it: The story is a wonderful mixture of the familiar, the unfamiliar, fantasy, mythology, legend, and adventure. Valente’s world is rich with strange characters that burst from the pages and invite you to join them as the plot unfolds. September is now thirteen, and no longer being a child, has come into the possession of a heart, which adds another element to her character: she is no longer so carefree as her first adventure in Fairyland, but she is always seeking to do the right thing. The story was well-paced and doesn’t seem to waste a lot of time going down rabbit holes, as there is a temptation to do, but Valente makes sure to tie in every element introduced into the bigger picture of the journey to the bottom of the world. In many ways, the book reminds me of The Wizard of Oz or the Harry Potter books in that there are larger forces at work in the world, some that would seek to help us and some that would hinder us. The ending is as delightfully sweet as it is curious, leaving the reader wondering and wanting more.

Other related materials: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente; The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente; The Orphans’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M Valente; Gregor the Overlander books by Suzanne Collins; Wonder by R.J. Palacio; “Who Could That Be At This Hour?”(All the Wrong Questions) by Lemony Snicket; The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, illustrated by Todd Harris; Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; The Wildwood Chronicles books by Colin Meloy; Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle; The Great Unexpected  by Sharon Creech; The Chronicles of Kazam books by Jasper Fforde; Books of Beginning series by John Stephens; Search for Wondla series by Tony DiTerlizzi; The Enchated Forest Chronicles books by Patricia C. Wrede

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

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, Illustrated by Ana Juan

Feiwel & Friends, 2011. 978-0312649616

Synopsis: September lives a boring life in Omaha with her mother and a small amiable dog, washing pink and yellow teacups. When the Green Wind appears to her while she is doing the dishes in the kitchen sink and asks if she would like to leave Omaha, she climbs through the window without a thought onto the Leopard of Little Breezes and is whisked away to Fairyland. While she is in Fairyland, she meets a Wyvern, a Marid, and the wicked ruler the Marquess, and goes in a journey to help restore Fairyland to its less oppressed state.

Why I picked it up: It was recommended to me by a classmate because of my fascination with mythology.

Why I finished it: The book whisked me away from the first pages and was very hard to put down once I got into it. Valente has borrowed from the traditional Victorian fairy tale/fantasy novel and created her own version of a story that is a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Howl’s Moving Castle. Its mythos is unique in the fact that Valente has created a cast of characters that is very well established within pages of being introduced and yet still leaves room for them to evolve as the book progresses. September is an engaging and likable heroine for her resourcefulness and her curiosity, though the narrator explains that as a twelve-year-old, she is somewhere between having a Heart and being Heartless (as most children are because they are unafraid of consequences like adults). The comedy within the book isn’t overwhelming and lends itself nicely to the plot in all the right places, though I will admit that I was surprised at some of the mild violence (at one point September must catch a fish with a hook and eat it raw; she is also forced to wrestle with one of her companions in order to save them from a greater peril), but gladly it was not gratuitous. The book is fun, engaging, humorous, sad, and beautifully crafted for a first young person’s book and now I am curious to read more of Valente’s work.

Other related materials: The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente; The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick; Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick; The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu; Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier; Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver; The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell; Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai; The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens; Down the Mystery River by Bill Willingham; The Apothecary by Maile Meloy; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs; The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill; True (…Sort Of) by Katherine Hannigan;  The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate; The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

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