Gaiman's "Blueberry Girl": a benediction for a girl's happy life

Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess's Blueberry Girl is a beautiful, affirming, inspiring picture book based on a poem that Gaiman wrote for Tash, Tori Amos's daughter (who is also Gaiman's god-daughter). The poem is a set of benedictions for girls, wishes for a realistically joyful life where what pain that comes only serves to make the pleasure sweeter. Vess (a well-known fantasy artist) has a distinctive style that gives the book much of its charm.

If you can read this without smiling or tearing up, you're made of sterner stuff than me.

...Dull days at forty, false friends at fifteen;
Let her have brave days and truth.
Let her go places that we've never been;
Trust and delight in her youth.

Ladies of Grace, and Ladies of Favour,
And Ladies of Merciful Night,
This is a prayer for a Blueberry Girl,
Grant her your Clearness of Sight.

Words can be worrisome, people complex;
Motives and manners unclear.
Grant her the wisdom to choose her path right,
Free from unkindness and fear.

Let her tell stories, and dance in the rain,
Somersaults, tumble and run;
Her joys must be high as her sorrows are deep,
Let her grow like a weed in the sun...
Blueberry Girl (US)

Blueberry Girl (UK)



  1. Is Mr Gaiman ever going to write anything besides little girl stuff any more?

    I mean it’s lovely and inspiring and wonderful and my little girl, who is now 21, loves him, but this guy wrote American Gods for chrissake. We know he’s got it in him to write something for adult men, too.

    I’m patient, but remember Neil, this generation’s Neil Gaiman can quickly become last generations Richard Bach. Be careful with all the inspiring stuff. It has a remarkably short shelf-life.

  2. Oh…
    Oh dear. That is an unfortunate title. It means things you do not want to imagine. It involves Rule 36 and a certain scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. D-:

  3. @#1

    Hell yeah! He should write more stuff like American Gods. It is one of the most amazing and inspiring books I’ve ever read, by far!

    But by doing this little girl stuff, Gaiman keeps the little girl in me alive. I once tried to kill her, but he was the one who made me stop doing it.


  4. I like this. Reminds me also of Philip Larkin’s lovely poem for his goddaughter:

    Born Yesterday
    for Sally Amis

    Tightly-folded bud,
    I have wished you something
    None of the others would:
    Not the usual stuff
    About being beautiful,
    Or running off a spring
    Of innocence and love –
    They will all wish you that,
    And should it prove possible,
    Well, you’re a lucky girl.

    But if it shouldn’t, then
    May you be ordinary;
    Have, like other women,
    An average of talents:
    Not ugly, not good-looking,
    Nothing uncustomary
    To pull you off your balance,
    That, unworkable itself,
    Stops all the rest from working.
    In fact, may you be dull –
    If that is what a skilled,
    Vigilant, flexible,
    Unemphasised, enthralled
    Catching of happiness is called.


    Yeah, how dare he write something, as you say, “wonderful and inspiring”! What’s he thinking?

    Don’t read “The Graveyard Book” either. That’s just “little girl stuff” about ghosts and knives and murder.

  6. Hear hear. Cute kids stuff, but let’s have another incredibly different piece of work, please. Get together with Terry Pratchett and brainstorm, summon Douglas Adams’ shade in an unholy ritual- something!

  7. How about “Fragile Things” or the “Graveyard Book”? Also, he wrote “Anansi Boys” after American Gods, and “Interworld” with Michael Reeves.

  8. @1

    Geez, guy…he published a poem he wrote for Tori Amos, it’s beautiful, and the best thing you can think to say is “he should have written something more for ME!”.

    Free ice-cream much? Shouldn’t you be off harassing Georg R. R. Martin…?

  9. I am actually happy he is a very talented writer who writes for children. The breadth of ‘serious’ artistic creation is geared towards adults. Children are most often left with generic, sterile, commercially-driven, condescending drivel.

    The very thing I admire most about Gaiman is that he treats children and childhood as a part of the world and life, not a specialty section or the little messy table, tucked in the kitchen, away from the adult’s feast.

    There is plenty of ‘grown men’ literature out there. The little ones deserve Neil Gaiman.

  10. @POPE RATZO:

    I’m currently about 1/4 of the way through “American Gods” and I’m a woman. It doesn’t feel like I am reading a book written specifically for adult men. It feels like a book written for anyone who likes a good story.

    I don’t see why any of Neil Gaiman’s work aught to be categorized under specific genders. I don’t see why a parent shouldn’t read “Blueberry Girl” to a son, as it can be an enriching life lesson to a young boy too. Are boys and men not potentially subject to ‘False Friends’ and Bad Wives? I’m sure a little boy would be fully capable of making the mental leap and be able to see himself in the position of the Blueberry Girl and become a Blueberry Boy.

    It’s a beautiful poem with wonderful art. I’m thankful that Neil Gaiman, Charles Vess and Tori Amos decided to share this with the world.

  11. when you get older you don’t see much difference between “children’s” stories and “adult” stories”.
    Not in the good ones anyway.

  12. Pretty much so anything that pops out of Neil’s brain is going to be awesome. Because he has awesome brains.


    Of course American Gods wasn’t written “for adult men”. I just wanted to encourage a writer I hold in high regard to not abandon the style that brought about some of his most wonderful work.

  14. @POPE RATZO:

    Is Mr Gaiman ever going to write anything besides little girl stuff any more?

    This is your idea of encouragement?

    Please tell me you do not coach children’s soccer.

    “Are you kids ever going to stop losing and be good?”

  15. @ Cory. Benediction would be very sad and concerning, as it is the prayer said at the end of something. A benediction for a little girl might be said over her grave (perhaps a Gaiman-esque motif, but still…). It is in fact, an invocation.

    Not trying to be snarky or picky, but it was a startling headline!

  16. I thought the same thing about the “Benediction” in the title. I was preparing myself to look for an old unicorn chaser after viewing!
    #4, Reminds me of Yeats’ “A Prayer for My Daughter,” too.

  17. @JRTOM Actually, as the book is a REQUEST for good things from “Ladies of Light, Ladies of Dark and Ladies of Never you Mind,” I think invocation is probably the right adjective.

  18. For whatever it’s worth, Blueberry Girl was written in August 2000, while I was writing the last couple of chapters of American Gods. Same author. Same pen even.


  19. Mr. Gaiman is a true magician of words. His writing is amazingly well-suited for reading out loud. His children’s books are gifts to child and parent alike. I read Coraline to my 8-year old daughter and she declared it the best book ever. For weeks she pretended to be Coraline. Now we are reading The Graveyard Book (which Gaiman beautifully patterned after The Jungle Book). It is gorgeous, scary, and inspiring. My daughter wants me to read The Jungle Book when we finish.

  20. what a load of libellous codswallop. I think it ought to be left to stand, until the author can be tracked down anyway.

    Gaiman might have some unfortunate $cientology taint because of circumstances beyond his control, but there is no way I’ll believe he’s in it like that loony Cruise. No way is Neil stupid enough.

    As for the rest (Amos yadayada) who cares?

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