Thursday, April 16, 2009

Poetry Friday: A poem for our daughters - Blueberry Girl, by Neil Gaiman

What is it that we hope for when we think of our daughters? That they grow up to be strong young women? That they find joy in the every day things of life? That they can weather the storms that we know are coming? How do we express our hope for our children?

These questions float around in all parents' heads. But Neil Gaiman has turned these thoughts into a wonderful poem. Gaiman wrote a lovely poem Blueberry Girl for a good friend who pregnant and having a daughter. Now he has published it, with beautiful illustrations by Charles Vess, as a children's book.
Blueberry Girl
by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess
NY: Harper Collins, 2009.
ages 5 - 12.
This poem is an ode to a mother's hopes for her daughter, but it's written in a lyrical way without being too sentimental or gooey. The rhythm of the poetry is beautiful - listen to Gaiman reading it in the video below to get a sense of how well it flows.

There are parts of the poem that girls will connect to, and others that mothers will smile at. Girls may like the references to fairy tales: “Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen, let her stay waking and wise.” Mothers will smile at lines hoping that their girls overcome the "dull days of forty" and "false friends at fifteen." But this is my favorite part (interestingly, my daughter Katy also really liked these lines and the drawing showing a girl choosing her path):
"Words can be worrisome, people complex, motives and manners unclear,
Grant her the wisdom to choose her path right, free from unkindness and fear."
The best way to get a sense of the book is to listen to Neil Gaiman read it himself. Check out this video, with illustrations from the book and Gaiman reading it.

Find a copy at the Berkeley Public Library or the Oakland Public Library, or order it at Amazon. It's really a beautiful book, and would make a great present for any mother-to-be.

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