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Friday, February 27, 2009

This is a Prayer For A Blueberry Girl...

A video, put together by Brady Hall, using one of the readings I did during the Graveyard Book reading tour (I'll ask him which one), and the Charles Vess art from the book (out in ten days or less).



Over on Mousecircus.com, at the Blueberry Girl page, you can read the thing I wrote to explain what this book is.

But because not everyone is going to head over there, it says:

Hello.

You're probably wondering what kind of book this is.

This is the kind of book that comes about when a friend phones you and says, "I'll be having a baby in a month. Would you write her a poem? A sort of prayer, maybe? We call her the Blueberry. . . ." And you think, Yes, actually. I would.

I wrote the poem. When the baby was born, they stopped calling her the Blueberry and started calling her Natashya, but they pinned up the handwritten Blueberry girl poem beside her bed.

I kept a copy at my house, taped to a filing cabinet. And when friends read it, they said things like "Please, can I have a copy for my friend who is going to be giving birth to a daughter?" and I wound up copying it out for people, over and over.
I wasn't going to let it be published, not ever. It was private, and written for one person, even if I did seem to be spending more and more of my time handwriting or printing out nice copies for mothers-to-be and for babies.

Then artist Charles Vess (whom I had collaborated with on Stardust) read it.
And somehow, it all became simple. I made a few phone calls. We decided to make some donations to some charities. And Charles began to draw, and then to paint, taking the poem as a starting point and then making something universal and beautiful.

On his blog he said, "Taking Neil's lovely poetic meditation on the inherent joys of a mother-daughter relationship and developing a compelling narrative impulse without robbing the poem of its highly symbolic nature was an interesting conceptual journey." Which I think is Charles for "It wasn't easy to make that poem into a picture book.” He did an astonishing job, but I still worried. I stopped worrying the day the assistant editor at HarperChildrens, who was herself pregnant, called me to let me know that she'd got the artwork in, and read it, and then started crying in the office.

It's a book for mothers and for mothers-to-be. It's a book for anyone who has, or is, a daughter. It's a prayer and a poem, and now it's a beautiful book.

I hope you enjoy it. I'm really proud of it. And I hope this means I don't have to copy it out any longer….

Neil

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