Written by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Charles Vess
Ladies of light and ladies of darkness
And ladies of never-you-mind
This is a prayer for a blueberry girl.
First, may you ladies be kind.
The plot in a nutshell: A poem of wishes for a newborn baby girl
Many wishes and hopes are expressed in this poem written for a new baby girl. Some of them make references to fairy tales, such as a wish to keep her from spindles and sleeps, while others reference more contemporary and real concerns, such as nightmares and bad husbands. There are wishes for her to be brave, true and surrounded by good friends. Some requests, such as the request for her to have wisdom enough to choose the right path, are fitting to every time period in life, from childhood to adulthood. Together they form a benediction of love and hope.
This lovely book got its start when author Neil Gaiman was asked by his friend, singer Tori Amos, to write a prayer poem for her baby girl, who was due to be born in about a month and whom they had nicknamed Blueberry. He wrote the text of the book for her and they pinned it up beside her bed and he thought that was it. But people were always asking him for copies of it for their daughters or their friends who were expecting girls. So, although he had never planned to publish it, he met with the illustrator and they sorted it out as a picture book.
Charles Vess had previously collaborated with Mr. Gaiman on the graphic novel version of Stardust and his ethereal artistic style is a perfect match here. I love that many different types of girls are shown in the artwork, implying that the prayer and all it wishes for the Blueberry Girl is applicable to all girls everywhere. I’ve seen criticism that the book is better suited to parents than children, but I disagree. I think the emotional sincerity of the poem and the empowering illustrations make this a wonderful book for parents to share with their girls, maybe even as a springboard to talk about their own wishes.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that every new baby is full of hope and promise, with so much to be wished and hoped for by everyone who loves them.