Blueberry Girl

( 23 )

Overview

This is a prayer for a blueberry girl . . .

A much-loved baby grows into a young woman: brave, adventurous, and lucky. Exploring, traveling, bathed in sunshine, surrounded by the wonders of the world. What every new parent or parent-to-be dreams of for her child, what every girl dreams of for herself.

Let me go places that we've never been, trust and delight in her youth.

Nationally bestselling author Neil ...

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Overview

This is a prayer for a blueberry girl . . .

A much-loved baby grows into a young woman: brave, adventurous, and lucky. Exploring, traveling, bathed in sunshine, surrounded by the wonders of the world. What every new parent or parent-to-be dreams of for her child, what every girl dreams of for herself.

Let me go places that we've never been, trust and delight in her youth.

Nationally bestselling author Neil Gaiman wrote Blueberry Girl for a friend who was about to become the mother of a little girl. Here, he and beloved illustrator Charles Vess turn this deeply personal wish for a new daughter into a book that celebrates the glory of growing up: a perfect gift for girls embarking on all the journeys of life, for their parents, and for everyone who loves them.

Give her all these and a little bit more, gifts for a blueberry girl.

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Editorial Reviews

Cookie Magazine
“It is astonishingly lovely.”
Bookseller
“An enchanting lullaby poem brought to life by magical paintings for mothers and daughters (whatever their ages).”
Bookseller
“An enchanting lullaby poem brought to life by magical paintings for mothers and daughters (whatever their ages).”
Cookie Magazine
“It is astonishingly lovely.”
Publishers Weekly

In a magical blessing for unconventional girls, Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) addresses the "ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind," asking them to shelter and guide an infant girl as she grows. "Help her to help herself,/ help her to stand,/ help her to lose and to find./ Teach her we're only as big as our dreams./ Show her that fortune is blind." Sinuous, rococo lines-the flowing hair, drooping boughs, winding paths that inspired the pre-Raphaelites-spread their tendrils throughout Vess's (The Ladies of Grace Adieu) full-bleed spreads, potent mixtures of the charms of Arthur Rackham, Maxfield Parrish and Cecily Barker's flower fairies. An Art Nouveau-ish font in a blueberry color compounds the sense of fantasy. On each page a different girl-short, tall, white, brown, younger, older-runs or jumps or swims, accompanied by animals meant to guard and protect her. Fans of Gaiman and Vess will pounce on this creation; so too will readers who seek for their daughters affirmation that sidesteps traditional spiritual conventions. All ages. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
Gaiman's Blueberry Girl might be best described as a praise song for the newborn daughter of a friend. A series of wishes for the kind of woman the child will become are addressed to female spirits, a bit reminiscent of the fairies in Sleeping Beauty. The wishes are very much in line with 21st-century perceptions of women as proactive and highly competent residents in a complex world. He prays, for example, that the spirits will "Help her help herself, help her to stand, help her to lose and to find. Teach her that we are only big as our dreams. Show her fortune is blind." The text swirls around the land and sea creatures, plant life and a rainbow of girls/women shown on each page. The tone of Vess's illustrations suggests the world of science fiction/fantasy, with which Gaiman is associated. This book could easily become a favorite gift, not just for newborn baby girls but for strong females of any age. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal

PreS Up

Gaiman and Vess worked together on Stardust (HarperCollins, 2000), the award-winning fantasy that became a film in 2007. One can count on them for a fresh approach to the conventions of a genre. This New Age "prayer" for a yet-to-be-born child is no exception, although the combination of a picture-book format with concepts that require adult understanding may cause confusion or boredom in youngsters ("Keep her from..../Nightmares at three or bad husbands at thirty,/.... Dull days at forty, false friends at fifteen-"). Visually, the book also struggles with a split personality. One scene, in which animals peer at a girl in jeans and dreadlocks, is rendered in watercolor, defined by clean outlines, for a contemporary, realistic look. Another view of naked babies sleeping in flower petals is created with a hazy focus, calling to mind Jessie Willcox Smith or Elsa Beskow's Peter in Blueberry Land (Floris, 1988). The dedication indicates that this poem was written for a pregnant friend; it seeks to ward off all sorts of fairy-tale trouble: "Ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind.... Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen/Let her stay waking and wise." The "ladies" are draped in clouds and cloaks, sunsets and rainbows. The racial characteristics, hair color, and age of the girl change from page to page, presumably for an "everygirl" effect. This may resonate with people purchasing baby presents, as Seuss's Oh, the Places You'll Go! (Random, 1990) strikes a chord at graduation. The card, however, should read "Mother."-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
A rich and beautiful prayer for a girl. "Ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind, / This is a prayer for a blueberry girl." Three women in flowing robes-the appropriately mythological Maiden, Mother and Crone-float in the sky over a small, dancing child trailed by numerous birds of the air. Free her from "nightmares at three or bad husbands at thirty," let her run and dance and grow, teach her and help her find her own truth. The verse is lovely, sinuous and sweetly rhyming, piling on blessings. Vess's precise line-and-color illustrations fill each spread with velvet colors and the iconography of myths and fairy tales, a good match to fantasist Gaiman's words. Plants, animals, sun and meadow appear in elegantly drawn detail, their realism tempered by floating trees and magical flowers. The girl transforms from stanza to stanza and spread to spread, blond or burnished, child or nearly teen. There is nothing cute or cloying here, just beauty, balance and joy. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060838102
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/8/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 377,322
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has written highly acclaimed books for both children and adults. He has won many major awards, including the Hugo and the Nebula, and his New York Times bestselling novel The Graveyard Book is the only work ever to win both the Newbery (US) and Carnegie (UK) Medals. His books for readers of all ages include the bestselling Coraline, also an Academy Award-nominated film; Fortunately, the Milk; Odd and the Frost Giants; and The Wolves in the Walls. Originally from England, Gaiman now lives in the United States.

Charles Vess's work has graced the pages of numerous publications and has been exhibited internationally. Some of his other books include Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman, a circle of cats and Seven Wild Sisters with Charles de Lint, a new edition of Peter Pan, and The Ladies of Grace Adieu with Susanna Clarke. His awards include a Mythopoeic, Ink Pot, two Chesley, two World Fantasy, and two Eisner awards.

Biography

Neil Gaiman thought he wrote comic books. But a newspaper editor, of course, set him straight.

Back when he was riding the diabolical headwinds of his popular series of graphic novels, The Sandman, the author attended a party where he introduced himself as a comic-book writer to a newspaper's literary editor. But when the editor quickly realized who this actually was -- and the glaze melted from his eyes -- he offered Gaiman a correction tinged with astonishment: "My God, man, you don't write comics, you write graphic novels." Relating the story to theLos Angeles Times in 1995, Gaiman said, "I suddenly felt like someone who had been informed that she wasn't a hooker, that in fact she was a lady of the evening."

Gaiman's done much more, of course, than simply write graphic novels, having coauthored, with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, a comic novel about the Apocalypse; adapted into hardcover the BBC miniseries Neverwhere about the dark underworld beneath the streets of London; and, inspired by his young daughter, put a horrifying spin on C.S. Lewis' wardrobe doors for Coraline, a children's book about a passageway into a magical, yet malevolent, land.

But it is The Sandman that is Gaiman's magnum opus.

Though he had told a career counselor in high school that he wanted to pen comic books, he had a career as a freelance journalist before his first graphic novel, Violent Cases, was published in England in 1987. DC Comics discovered him and The Sandman was born. Or reborn, actually. The comic debuted back in 1939 with a regular-Joe crime fighter in the lead. But in Gaiman's hands the tale had a more otherworldly spin, slowing introducing readers to the seven siblings Endless: Dream, Death, Desire, Destiny, Destruction, Despair and Delirium (once Delight). They all have their roles in shaping the fates of man. In fact, when Death was imprisoned for decades, the results were devastating. Richard Nixon reached The White House and Michael Jackson the Billboard charts.

Direction from newspaper editors notwithstanding, to Gaiman, these stories are still comic books. The man who shuttled back and forth between comics and classics in his formative years and can pepper his writing with references to Norse mythology as well as the vaudevillian rock group Queen, never cottoned to such highbrow/lowbrow distinctions. Comparing notes on a yachting excursion with members of the Irish rock band U2, the writer who looks like a rock star and Delirium and the rock stars who gave themselves comic-worthy names such as Bono and The Edge came to a realization: Whether the medium is pop music or comic books, not being taken seriously can be a plus. "It's safer to be in the gutter," he told The Washington Post in 1995.

In 1995, Gaiman brought The Sandman to a close and began spending more time on his nongraphic fiction, including a couple of short-story collections. A few years later he released Stardust, an adult fairy tale that has young Tristan Thorn searching for a fallen star to woo the lovely but cold Victoria Forester. In 2001, he placed an ex-con named Shadow in the middle of a war between the ancient and modern dieties in American Gods. Coming in October 2002 is another departure: an audio recording of Two Plays for Voices, which stars Bebe Neuwirth as a wise queen doing battle with a bloodthirsty child and Brian Dennehy as the Angel of Vengeance investigating the first crime in history in heaven's City of Angels.

Gaiman need not worry about defining his artistic relevance, since so many other seem to do it for him. Stephen King, Roger Zelazny and Harlan Ellison are among those who have contributed introductions to his works. William Gibson, the man who coined the term "cyberspace," called him a "a writer of rare perception and endless imagination" as well as "an American treasure." (Even though he's, technically, a British treasure transplanted to the American Midwest.) Even Norman Mailer has weighed in: "Along with all else, Sandman is a comic strip for intellectuals, and I say it's about time."

The gushiest praise, however, may come from Frank McConnell, who barely contained himself in the pages of the political and artistic journal Commonweal. Saying Gaiman "may just be the most gifted and important storyteller in English," McConnell crowned Sandman as the most important act of fiction of the day. "And that, not just because of the brilliance and intricacy of its storytelling -- and I know few stories, outside the best of Joyce, Faulkner, and Pynchon, that are more intricate," he wrote in October 1995, " but also because it tells its wonderful and humanizing tale in a medium, comic books, still largely considered demimonde by the tenured zombies of the academic establishment."

"If Sandman is a 'comic,'" he concluded, "then The Magic Flute is a 'musical' and A Midsummer Night's Dream is a skit. Read the damn thing: it's important."

Good To Know

Some fascinating factoids from our interview with Gaiman:

"One of the most enjoyable bits of writing Sandman was getting authors whose work I love to write the introductions for the collected graphic novels -- people like Steve Erickson, Gene Wolfe, Harlan Ellison, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Mikal Gilmore, and Samuel R. Delany."

"I have a big old Addams Family house, with -- in the summertime -- a vegetable garden, and I love growing exotic pumpkins. As a boy in England I used to dream about Ray Bradbury Hallowe'ens, and am thrilled that I get them these days. Unless I'm on the road signing people's books, of course."

"According to my daughters, my most irritating habit is asking for cups of tea."

"I love radio -- and love the availability of things like the Jack Benny radio shows in MP3 format. I'm addicted to BBC radio 7, and keep buying boxed CD sets of old UK radio programs, things like Round the Horne and Hancock's Half Hour. Every now and again I'll write a radio play."

"I love thunderstorms, old houses, and dreams."

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    1. Hometown:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 10, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portchester, England
    1. Education:
      Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    From A Girl To A Woman

    Cleverly written to illustrate the transformation from girl to woman, Blueberry Girl is sure to be a classic read for teens and parents of teen daughters. Thought-provoking and inspirational. Dare to grow, you won't regret it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2013

    Highly Recommend!

    Beautifully illustrated book to accompany a beautiful poem about the desires a mother has for her daughter. A great book for both mothers and daughters.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2010

    a beautiful book

    This lovely poem is beautifully illustrated, and makes a great gift for a new baby or even for a graduate.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    I fell in love

    Picked this book up on a whim because I am a fan of Gaiman's other work and it was love at first sight. The illustrations were lovely and showed a diversity of beautiful, strong, young girls as the title 'blueberry girl'. It plays perfectly to Gaiman's strengths of questioning received wisdom and creating a new mythology for a contemporary age, a mythology that draws on historic roots but which looks boldly toward a better future.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2009

    Love this book.

    I just had my first child 4 months ago, a daughter. I bought this book for her, although she is a little young for it, she loves the pictures. I love the messages throughout the book, my wishes for her throughout life's journey.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2009

    a dismal excuse for a children's book

    Prayers to ladies of darkness are strange content for children's literature. Both story and illustrations are ominous and creepy. Would you really want to say a prayer to help your child lose? The world is dark enough without disheartening messages to children. I got this book for my daughter and will not read it to her again. I hope she learns to rely on God, not on herself and ladies of never you mind.

    0 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Every Mothers Dream for her Daughter

    I gave this to my 15-year-old who just finished her first year of high school and is learning to drive. She has always been my "pumpkin-pie girl" so she really related to this story...just reinforces my hope and dream that she be a healthy, happy, independent thinking young lady.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    A wonderful story for girls

    This is every parent's wish for their daughter. I think the book says it all.

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  • Posted May 18, 2009

    Wonderful story

    I've been a fan of Neil's work for quite sometime, and though this is a little different from what some may be used to from Neil, it's just as wonderful! The story was writted for Tori Amos' daughter, and I cried the first time I read the book. I've since read it to my 6 yr old niece, and she loved it. This book is a great gift for those who appreciate the gifts that life give us...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2009

    What a Lovely Gift for Baby Girl!

    Neil Gaiman's sometimes humorous, very true "prayer" reminds both mother and daughter that strong girls become strong women and encourages independence and strength. I gave it my friend with a new daughter and I sent it to my own daughter who is 28.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 2, 2009

    wonderful

    Exactly what one would expect from Neil Gaiman -- a real parent's hopes and dreams for a daughter. Lyrical, touching, a little edgy, marvelous.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Lovely for girls of all ages

    A marvelous bit of bedtime poetry, and a lovely prayer for our daughters by Neil Gaiman. Not in the least bit creepy, but not at all saccharine. Excellent book.

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    Posted March 20, 2009

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    Posted March 23, 2009

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    Posted August 20, 2009

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews

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