THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING by Catherynne Valente certainly has the most intriguing title of the year. It’s a fantasy that has drawn comparisons to such classics as ALICE IN WONDERLAND, THE WIZARD OF OZ, and PETER PAN. It has a very distinctive narrative voice that drove me crazy, but perhaps you will find it charming.
Once upon a time a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog. Because she had been born in May, and because she had a mole on her left cheek, and because her feet were very large and ungainly, the Green Wind took pity on her and flew to her window one evening after her twelfth birthday. He was dressed in a green smoking jacket, a green carriage-driver’s cloak, and green jodhpurs, and green snowshoes. It is very cold in the clouds in the shantytowns where the Six Winds live.
Here’s the problem. It was originally serialized online several years ago–and already won the Andre Norton Award. While that award didn’t have any problems with its electronic format, the Newbery is an entirely different matter. Here are the relevant passages, in my opinion.
Publication Eligibility Issues
(D) PUBLISHED – means prepared and issued for public sale. This includes the acquisition, editorial work and release of a book and may (or may not) also include marketing and promotion.
Example: Eragon, by Christopher Paolini, was originally self-published by Paolini International, Livingston, Montana, in 2002. Subsequently, in 2003, it was published by Random House. Because the first edition had been sold locally and distributed by the author, the Random House edition was ineligible. The same would have been true had the original publication been by any smaller publisher, rather than by the author.
(E) PUBLICATION DATE. The intent is that every eligible book be considered, but no book be considered in more than one year.
Book Eligibility Issues
(A) ORIGINAL WORK. 5. A book first published in electronic format (e-book) and subsequently published as a hardcover or paperback book is not eligible.
(D) BOOK means that the work was published in book format (pages between covers). Electronic books (e-books) and technological additions (including, but not limited to, CDs, DVDs, or accompanying websites) are specifically excluded from consideration of the book itself. A book published only in electronic format (ebook)
is not eligible.
THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND was ineligible in its original year of publication (by virtue of not fitting this particular definition of book), and thus I do not think it will be given a second chance to compete this year. The only chance it has is if the chair rules that online serialization is not synonymous with publication. Was it issued for public sale? Acquired? Edited? Marketed? It’s a judgment call, but I think all the other criteria point to ineligibility. What do you think?