The Girl Who Sailed the Stars

illus. by Anuska Allepuz. 272p. Philomel. Jun. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780525515241.
Gr 3–6— A plucky girl survives a lonely and unloved beginning to find adventure and happiness in this richly imaginative fantasy that brings to mind Joan Aiken's "Wolves Chronicles" with a dash of Roald Dahl. Oona Britt's father is terribly disappointed when his prophesied son turned out to be yet another daughter and wants to have nothing to do with her. Her mother and six older sisters are equally uncaring (though one of the sisters learns to appreciate Oona's qualities and avoids an uncomfortably cold fate as a result). But Oona, now 11, is smart and creative. She figures out a way to get an education even though girls aren't supposed to, and refuses to give up her dream to join her father on his whaling ship. To avoid being forced to accompany her mother and sisters to the South to be married off, Oona stows away on the Plucky Leopard, determined to prove herself. With the help of a kindly navigator named Haroyld, who sees in Oona the daughter he and his wife lost at birth, she does just that. Her father seems to be warming toward her, but abandons her entirely when she refuses to help him kill the fabled nardoo. The setting is beautifully rendered, with intricate details. For instance, all the buildings in Nordlor are constructed out of sunken ships; they not only creak and groan, but rock back and forth.
VERDICT Strong world-building joins lyrical prose and a fine leavening of humor, adventure, and magic, to make a winning combination.

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