This fourth book and latest installment in Catherynne Valente's Fairyland series is a delight - just as the previous books have been. Don't let the "J" (for "juvenile") label fool you - this series can certainly be enjoyed by children, but it has both sophistication and nostalgic glee. The series is whimsical - its language has both beauty and humor, and its content is a knowing, friendly wink to fellow lovers of fairy stories. There aren't just inventive "turns of phrase" - the phrases do more than turn - they galumph riotously across the page. But lest you think it's all play: moments of surprising clarity and gravitas can be found throughout the each book in the series. They come at you unexpectedly, and are all the more powerful for it. The fourth wall is often broken by the charming narrator and every character will seem both familiar and surprising as readers lose themselves in this unruly and deliciously wild tale.
Begin with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Read it out loud to anyone who will listen, for the sheer joy of the language. If no one else is handy, read it out loud to yourself (recommendation: do it while dressed in your fancest, favorite clothes, drinking the most fantastic beverage concoction you can invent, and sitting out of doors on a blustery, warm day). Then continue on with books two and three, and end with this, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, which takes readers in a new direction with a new main character but still follows a path familiar to us all: a child learning to listen to the magical inner voice that tells us who we really are.