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The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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*Starred Review* Plucky September makes her way back to Valente’s marvelous, mesmerizing fairyland, following her previous trip, in The Girl Who Fell beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (2012). But this time, she’s a seasoned traveler: a bit older, a bit wiser, and ready to start acting like the 14-year-old young lady she’s expected to be. September swoops into fairyland, along with her growing-flashier-by-the-minute Model A Ford, and discovers a land so beset by rules and regulations that she must receive an official profession—she’s named “royal scofflaw, professional revolutionary, and criminal of the realm”—prior to entering. But before she can get to adventuring, she’s tasked with delivering a package to the moon, which has begun to shudder and shake with moonquakes because a terrible yeti is trying to break it to pieces. September and her friends traverse the moon, meet their fates, encounter older and younger versions of themselves, and wonder what, exactly, makes them who they are—all while trying to find the speedy yeti and stop him from his destructive plans. As usual, Valente enlightens readers with pearly gleams of wisdom about honesty, identity, free will, and growing up. September often worries who she should be and what path she should follow, but the lovely truth, tenderly told, is that it’s all up to her. Thanks to a dramatic cliff-hanger ending, there is sure to be more empowerment and whimsy to come. Grades 5-8. --Sarah Hunter
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But, unlike the two earlier books in the series, Soared does not stand on its own--not only is there a cliffhanger ending, the book brings up far more issues than it resolves. Indeed, the strong narrative drive of the second book, is largely missing here. Instead, Valente barely bothers to connect the chapters and instead seems more focused on philosophical questions and literary inventions. September has moments of initiative and action, but much of the storyline is driven by external events or concerns matters that happened in the past. For that reason, it's less, too, of a children's book than the earlier ones. Older kids who enjoyed the first two, though, will probably enjoy this one as well. It won't, however, hook anyone new into the series.
In other words, this book suffers from middle-itis--it's largely set up for the next novel. In many ways, it's really a three-star not a four-star novel, but I'm giving it extra credit for Valente's vision of the moon and the potential of the storyline she's developing.
I say that carefully…I enjoyed the book immensely. It’s just that the first two stories drove themselves so well, and the third one stalled out a few times. It was almost like the whimsy and the glory of the words took precedence over the story. This time around, instead of September moving herself from one task to another, she has to stop and listen to a lecture. Every new person September meets—first page to last page—spends several pages waxing poetic about this or that life lesson. It happens over and over again! Still, each lecture is filled with beautiful words of great depth and meaning. I felt compelled to highlight many passages for future reflection. But I wish there would have been more story and less lecturing!
The story that was there was great fun. This time, September goes to the moon, where she finally reconnects with her friends we missed from book two. Together they travel through photographs, quest to find a severed Yeti paw, destroy fate with a hammer, meet past and future versions of themselves, learn what happened to the missing Fairies of Fairy Land, and many other fantastical adventures that make no sense when you try to write about them afterwards--but make perfect sense when you read about them in the book! There is a cliffhanger ending this time, which is never a good thing for me when the next book in the series hasn’t been written yet.
Honestly though, as much as I’ve enjoyed these stories, I think I’m ready for a break from the quaint and eccentric oddities of Septembers adventures in Fairy Land. I think I’ll be ready to go back again soon though—hopefully right about the time book for is published!