What if you were good friends with a famous author and could tell him, “I’ll be having a baby in a month. Would you write her a poem? A sort of prayer, maybe? We call her the Blueberry…”? Would you expect him to have time to write the poem? Would you expect him to collaborate with a renowned fantasy illustrator to turn your daughter’s poem into a beautiful picture book years later?
You could if your friend was Neil Gaiman. His heartfelt poem lived on a scrap of paper taped to his filing cabinet for years. When Charles Vess dropped by for a visit one day and read the poem for himself, the idea for a picture book was born: Blueberry Girl.
You can read more about the story behind the story over at Gaiman’s blog, but the important questions really are, “Was the poem any good, and did it deserve to be illustrated?” Borders book buyers asked themselves that very question and decided against stocking it, though the book went on to be a New York Times best seller. Fortunately for Gaiman and Vess’s Blueberry Girl, many people, other than the soon-to-be-out-of-work book sellers of Borders, felt the book was well worth purchasing.
If you are looking for a Christian prayer, then you might be disappointed. Blueberry Girl is more of a prayer to ancient Druid goddesses—mothers of the earth and life. The prayer is both spiritual and, at times, cheeky as it covers not just the unborn daughter of Gaiman’s friend, but also women of all ages. It is a prayer of good tidings, behavior, and choices—of hope for better days—of hope for joy and love.
Let her tell stories and dance in the rain, somersault, tumble and run,
Her joys must be high as her sorrows are deep.
Let her grow like a weed in the sun.
Vess’s art takes these beautiful words and adds fantastical imagery. The girl is depicted in various colors, ages, and cultures. She is the everywoman and an embodiment of nature with her owl as a form of spirit guide. Sometimes alone on a path, sometimes at the head of a procession of animals, she dances in clouds and grows from the earth. Everything from plants to sunbeams takes on a decorative, emblematic form.
Blueberry Girl is quite beautiful. Fans of pictures books will love the typography, imagery, and words. Others might just like the prayer. Either way, I highly recommend it.
Release Date: March 10, 2009 (USA)
ISBNs: 0060838086 (9780060838089)