cover image Blueberry Girl

Blueberry Girl

Neil Gaiman, , illus. by Charles Vess. . HarperCollins, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-083808-9

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.)