My favorite thing about this book is, of course, Wyverary A-Through-L. What's a wyverary, you ask? Well, when a wyvern and a library love each other very very much......blush... you know the spiel.--------------------------------------------------------------But do I sense some skepticism, my cynical friends? Do you maybe insist on thinking there is an infinitely more prosaic explanation for the existence of Wyverary, an alphabetizing-loving fire-breathing half-library? Let him rebuke your doubts himself: September, really. Which do you think is more likely? That some brute bull left my mother with egg and went off to sell lonemozers, or that she mated with a Library and had many loved and loving children? I mean, let us be realistic! This is a cute and whimsical story of a pre-teen Nebraska girl September (born in May, actually) who eagerly leaves the world where her father is fighting in a war and her mother is building airplanes, and sets out for Fairyland. Where, as she soon learns, things are not all that she had thought they'd be. There is violence, and slavery, and pain, and abandonment, and cruelty, and bureaucracy. I believe I am sick to death of hearing what is and is not allowed. What is the purpose of a Fairyland if everything lovely is outlawed, just like in the real world? Along the way, September meets the aforementioned Wyverary, a wish-granting Marid, the evil Marquess, spoonless witches, queenless soap golem, migrating velocipedes, and a jacket that is eager to please, among others. Along the way, she loses her heart, her shadow, her friends, and a great deal of her innocence. And finds much more than she lost - or bargained for. Oh, September. Such lonely, lost things you find on your way. It would be easier, if you were the only one lost. But lost children always find each other, in the dark, in the cold. It is as though they are magnetized, and can only attract their like. [...] If you would only leave cages locked and turn away from unloved Wyverns, you could stay Heartless. But you are stubborn, and do not listen to your elders. This story is marketed for children, but I think it takes an adult to fully appreciate the scope of this story as well as many more-or-less subtle adult hints scattered throughout. The book is permeated with the nostalgia for childhood and innocence, and you can truly appreciate this nostalgia only after you have left your childhood behind.The writing and the plotting of this book reminded me of a hybrid between the creations of Lewis Carroll (with less whimsy), Terry Pratchett (but less firmly grounded in the unreal reality), and Neil Gaiman (with less of the trademark matter-of-fact coolness). At first I thought it was trying too hard to be cute and self-aware, a bit too flowery, with overly precocious allegories and endless whimsy. Example: You’ll know it right away, it’s a big wooden spoon, streaked with marrow and wine and sugar and yogurt and yesterday and grief and passion and jealousy and tomorrow. But the writing grew on me as I continued with the story, and I came to love the fluidity of language and the beauty and lyricism of Valente's apt descriptions. The plot moves along smoothly and in determined fashion - much like September does through the Fairyland. ..........As for our heroine September - she is pretty cool and awesome. She is kind and resourceful and brave and stubborn and spirited. But I must admit - I did not care for her as much as I did for Gaiman's Coraline or Pratchett's Tiffany Aching - but in all honesty, those characters are hard to compete with. I cared more for her quest than for her. But the supporting characters truly shine. That’s the way I’m made. I have to keep going, always, and even when I get where I’m going I’ll have to keep on. The strange and somewhat broken Fairyland has won me over. I recommend this book to everyone who loves to exercise their imagination with a bot of whimsy. Plus, you will get to meet my favorite Wyverary! 4.5 stars, and it is placed on my "For-my-future-hypothetical-daughter" shelf. Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble. ........................My review for the second September book, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, is over here, by the way.