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Instructions Hardcover – April 27, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061960306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061960307
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 7.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before," invites Gaiman's poem, first published in A Wolf at the Door (2000), reborn as a lavishly illustrated small-format picture book. A bipedal, bushy-tailed cat, wearing attire befitting Robin Hood, enters a fairy tale landscape filled with subtle and obvious allusions to familiar characters and stories. A cottage door leads him into a hallway of dramatic arches where a cat with an injured paw becomes his companion ("if any creature tells you that it hungers, feed it. If it tells you that it is dirty, clean it"). The wanderers press on, encountering a castle containing three sequestered princesses ("Do not trust the youngest. Walk on"), a ghostly ferryman, and other creatures. Recalling his work on Gaiman's Blueberry Girl, Vess's compositions are distinguished by elegant, winding lines--gnarled vines, plumes of smoke, dragon tails--and intimate frames that evoke moments of gentle wisdom. Young readers should relish the chimerical vision while older Gaiman fans should grasp the underlying suggestion that the compass used to navigate fairy tales can also guide us in the real world. All ages.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The flap designates this picture book from the award-winning team of Gaiman and Vess as “all ages,” which is cute but perhaps overly optimistic. Carrying the tagline Everything You’ll Need to Know on Your Journey, it could be described as Gaiman’s answer to Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go (1990): a catlike creature with a foxlike tail travels through a series of fairy-tale settings, guided by a narrator’s instructions. But where the Seuss book has become a staple graduation gift, its nonsensical language easily translating into simple life lessons, Gaiman’s seems less likely to find that kind of broad, lasting appeal. Some of the instructions pertaining to real life are straightforward enough (“If any creature tells you that it hungers, feed it”), but others seem to pertain to a story that’s not told here—why, for example, should we not trust the youngest of three princesses? References to “Winter’s realm” (drawn as a cold-looking, modern city) and “a worm at the heart of the tower” hint at grown-up concerns best avoided but, again, lack needed context. Certainly this will appeal to grown-ups who like a little magic in their lives, but children may be somewhat puzzled. Yet maybe that’s all right. Vess’ timeless watercolor-and-pencil illustrations, especially those of the cat-fox riding a wise eagle, a silver fish, and a gray wolf, are simply gorgeous and may entice kids to sprawl with the book on the carpet, figuring it all out. And maybe if they imagine their own answers to half-understood questions, then these instructions will have succeeded. Grades K-3. --Keir Graff

More About the Author

I make things up and write them down. Which takes us from comics (like SANDMAN) to novels (like ANANSI BOYS and AMERICAN GODS) to short stories (some are collected in SMOKE AND MIRRORS) and to occasionally movies (like Dave McKean's MIRRORMASK or the NEVERWHERE TV series, or my own short film A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON).

In my spare time I read and sleep and eat and try to keep the blog at www.neilgaiman.com more or less up to date.

Customer Reviews

The illustrations are well done.
Books Before Bed
It works a more subtle magic on the reader, I think, as well as focusing less attention on the gender of the character being instructed.
Anthony R. Cardno
Technically "Instructions" is a children's picture book, but it feels more like a whimsical poem with equally charming illustrations.
E. A Solinas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By T. S. VINE VOICE on April 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book contains a set of instructions for wanderers into the realms of Faerie. Those instructions come in the form of an evocative poem, written by Neil Gaiman, and illustrated by the illusively charming drawings of Charles Vess (who has some experience depicting those lands beyond the fields we know, having also illustrated Gaiman's _Stardust_ and Susanna Clarke's _The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories_, among many other works).

This will be classified as a "children's book," and it is, but it's also an adult's book and a reader's book; something that I expect will charm anyone who's ever read a fairy tale.

"Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat

nothing.

However, if any creature tells you that it hungers,

feed it.

If it tells you that it is dirty,

clean it.

If it cries to you that it hurts,

if you can,

ease its pain."
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By MJacobsen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
First things first: this is a poem, not a children's bedtime story as the cover art might suggest. I just wanted everyone to know that before they buy. That said, it is an absolutely charming poem about how to survive in a fairy tale and is fabulously well-done by Neil Gaiman. Fans of his work (the latest award-winner being his novel The Graveyard Book) will instantly recognize his invention on these pages. It's really quite charming and the illustrations are wonderful. If you're looking at this for your kids, it's appropriate for those who are old enough to understand the concept of entering a fairy tale, at least in my opinion....my four year old certainly understands it (and enjoys it!).

If you're a Gaiman fan like myself, this is a must-have for your collection.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Don't deny it. Everybody has had fantasies of wandering into another world, or at least a magically-enhanced pocket of our own -- and Neil Gaiman is an expert on both. His "Instructions" is a delicately illustrated, whimsical little picture book that takes you on a guided tour of a fantasy world, and Charles Vess' delicate, elegant illustrations mesh perfectly with Gaiman's words.

"Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before. Say please before you open the latch, go through, and walk down the path." Gaiman follows a cat-man in vaguely medieval clothes as he follows the various instructions. Obviously he starts off going through a mysterious door in a stone wall, which leads him into a world of ogres, palaces, wild woods, magic wells, princesses and red dragons.

Moreover, he gives you tips on the proper places to go and what you should do when you get there. For instance, he informs you what giant animals you are going to ride, what you shouldn't do (example: touch an imp doorknocker), and precisely what to say to whomever you meet.

Technically "Instructions" is a children's picture book, but it feels more like a whimsical poem with equally charming illustrations. Gaiman manages to make you feel like you wandered into a slightly tongue-in-cheek fairy tale and are just an observer rather than a full participant. It's a little like he's taking you by the hand and showing you the most interesting sights of the Fairy Tale World -- including some of the darker edges, like a haunted wood full of imps, or the incarnations of the year's months.

And Charles Vess' illustrations really give the book a magical air -- lots of gnarled trees, crows, clinging flowering vines, floating mists, green tinged forests and golden skies.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chelsea Porter on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Instructions is a lovely book. :) It's quite a bit smaller -- not in terms of page count, but physically -- than I expected, but it's plenty large enough to showcase the art. It's illustrated by the same man who did Blueberry Girl, but I'm not sure I would have guessed that if I didn't already know it... the style in this one is quite different, in my opinion. It's generally not as whimsical as Blueberry Girl, although it's still on fairy tale themes. Come to think of it, though, that's true of Neil Gaiman's text in each, as well, so I guess it's appropriate. :) I read it to my 5-year-old daughter, and she seemed to enjoy it. I tried to specifically slow down in my reading, and used a lot of Gaiman's intonations (from the youtube video I watched), just like with Blueberry Girl. I think the themes in this one are still a bit over her head, but she'll grow into it. :D

I think this is truly a special book for kids, but probably even more so for adults. Here's hoping it becomes a graduation classic, a la "Oh, The Places You'll Go!"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wulfstan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written with lovely illustrations. The illustrations by Charles Vess are full of hidden details, so linger over and savor them. I say this as you can likely read this book in a few minutes, there's not that much in the way of words. What few there are are well crafted.

Good for read-aloud, or a gift for a child you really like, or for any Gaiman fan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Larissa on June 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A Puss in Boots has one day decided to take a walk following a path he has never used before. It is a path well hidden and only just discovered. But this will be no ordinary walk; it is a guided tour through a world of enchantment and danger. If you do not follow the Instructions you may never find your way home, but if you pay attention you may just learn the mysteries of a fairytale land.

Instructions will guide you through a light and magical story full of friendship, mysteries and oddities. If you have ever wondered how to survive the perils of coming up against princesses, giants or wolves, if you have contemplated how to endure in a fairytale land then these clear and decisive instructions will set you straight. But listen carefully for there is wisdom too in these words that will be of benefit in our own strange and wondrous world. Instructions is a book to live by.
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