The only weird thing about Blueberry Girl is that it’s really not weird. If you weren’t looking for it in the bookstore, as I was, the beautiful cover art would probably strike you before the author’s name. You might even read it, marvel at the beauty of the art and the writing, and only then re-examine the cover to discover that it had been written by none other than Neil Gaiman.
If you’ve read The Wolves in the Walls or The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Gaiman’s previous kids’ pictures books, or indeed anything else by him, you may be a bit surprised by Blueberry Girl. It is, for the record, not about Violet Beauregarde; rather, it is a poetic (non-religious) prayer for a baby girl. Gaiman wrote the poem originally for the then-unborn daughter of his good friend, the musician and singer Tori Amos, and we are fortunate that he published it as well. The poem is absolutely beautiful, with references that few children will quite get, such as "Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen," and turns of phrase not really aimed at them, like "bad husbands at thirty." These have the marvelous effect of keeping a very touching poem from becoming cloyingly sweet.
The artwork, by Charles Vess, is beautiful, each page rich with color and detail. Vess manages to illustrate a poem that doesn’t seem to offer a great deal of guidance to an artist with images that seem to fit it perfectly.
Blueberry Girl retails for $17.99. If you have a daughter, as I do, you will love the book instantly. It would also make a terrific gift for anyone who’s just had or is about to have a baby girl. You can read more about it, and see a video made with the art from the book and a reading by Gaiman himself, on his blog.