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Instructions [Library Binding]

Neil Gaiman , Charles Vess
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.57
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Book Description

May 2010
Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before, say 'please' before you open the latch, go through, walk down the path ...The reader is invited on a lyrical journey peopled by a cast of mythical characters, with a set of instructions that is both intriguing and reassuring. The advice for travelling through a fairytale landscape might just save you from being eaten by wolves or being lost for ever, but it is also a charming metaphor for living courageously and taking risks. The expressive and stylish prose resonates with Gaiman's distinctive voice and will captivate readers of any age. Illustrated throughout with gorgeous art by Charles Vess, whose work can also be seen in Neil Gaiman's "Blueberry Girl" and Susanna Clarke's "The Ladies of Grace Adieu".
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Library Binding: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061960314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061960314
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 20.1 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neil Gaiman is a tour de force of creative talent. He is the bestselling author of Coraline and Stardust, both of which are major motion films. Neil also co-wrote the script for Beowulf starring Anthony Hopkins and Angeline Jolie. He is the creator/writer of the award-winning Sandman comic series and has written several books for children. His latest title, The Graveyard Book, won the Teenage Booktrust Prize 2009. Neil has been immortalised in song by Tori Amos, and is a songwriter himself. His official website now has more than one million unique visitors each month, and his online journal is syndicated to thousands of blog readers every day.

Product Description


`An extraordinarily original reading experience which is both fascinating and unsettling . . . This is a book that stands many readings: it amazes, perplexes and entertains'
--School Librarian

About the Author

Neil Gaiman, author, scriptwriter and creator of graphic novels, is British and lives in the USA. His diverse catalogue of books includes the Teenage Book Prize winning and Carnegie Medal winning novel The Graveyard Book, Stardust (now a major feature film), the bestselling novel for young readers Coraline (now a major 3D animated film), and the picture book The Wolves in the Walls, which was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. In addition to Blueberry Girl, Charles also collaborated with Neil on Stardust, for which Charles's paintings won the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist in 1999, and on Neil's acclaimed Sandman comics series. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful & Charming 17 Jun 2010
By Steven R. McEvoy TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This book took me completely by surprise. I was expecting something darker, with more of a twist. But Gaiman once again gives us something new and different. On the dust jacket it says it is for 'All Ages', and it really is. It is instructions given as you journey out in life and come back home. It is magical, whimsical, enjoyable and fun. Wonderfully illustrated and written, the words of Gaimen and art of Vess present a single story that complement each other completely.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to have a magical adventure 17 May 2010
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful drawings, but where's the story? 10 Jan 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Negative reviews aren't normally my thing, but I think fans of Gaiman and Vess's earlier collaborations deserve to know that this book is thin gruel indeed compared to their previous ventures into the realm of faerie.

Many of the same readers might already have the text of Instructions, which appears as a poem in Gaiman's short story collection Fragile Things. It's fine in and of itself, but it could only be considered a story in the loosest and most tenuous sense of that term.

I purchased this book hoping that it would be a storybook. Even at just 40 pages long, I have enough regard for the work of Gaiman and Vess to think them capable of weaving a bit of magic in that space. Unfortunately, despite the quality of the illustrations, this just didn't do it for me. The book didn't transport me into another world because there was - in my view, and maybe that reflects a lack of imagination on my part - not sufficient story to work with the pictures.

On the plus side, however, this slight disappointment has spurred me to dig out my old copies of Stardust, The Books of Magic and The Sandman, which are absolutely terrific. Timeless fairy tales for adults that are as good as anything ever produced in the genre. Gaiman's universe, as illustrated by Vess, is a truly wondrous place. Can't wait for their next full-scale collaboration.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short tale for all ages 26 May 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This really is suitable for all ages, there is not the weird menace or dark element of a lot of Gaiman's material (certainly his adult reads) and it is brilliantly illustrated including characters and elements from tales and fables many will be familiar with. The main character seems to be puss in boots, while red riding hood and the wolf, sleeping giants and wyrm dragons all make an appearence.

For fans of Gaiman there are elements which will be familiar from his books, such as the unnoticed door to a fantasy world or adventure (Neverwhere: The Author's Preferred Text and to an extent also Stardust) and friendly ghosts (The Graveyard Book). That said you dont need any knowledge of Gaiman's writing to enjoy this.

If you are reading it with a younger reader it is about one or two sentences to a page, so for someone learning to read it wont appear like it is too daunting, and the very full illustrations provide plenty of things to talk about or point out and branch out into other stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars more useful life lessons from Mr Gaiman. 12 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First I have to say that I am a confirmed fan of Neil Gaiman and we have more books by him in our house than any other author, spanning the full breadth of his output. I have just bought this as a Christmas present for my son, aged nearly 4. He is too young at present to fully grasp the narrative arc of this book but I feel it is a story he will treasure throughout his life. My daughter has a copy of Blueberry Girl which sets out all the things any parent could wish for their daughters future and The Instructions is a companion piece for a son. I highly recommend this book!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 11 days ago by Cheryl
5.0 out of 5 stars A good book
This is a very clever book and has helped children to engage in a different way with our topic of instruction texts.
Published 3 months ago by Nikki_550
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Text and images are beautiful. I love the idea of giving instructions for what to do if you were trapped in a fairy tale. Read more
Published 14 months ago by A. Drever
1.0 out of 5 stars Neither one thing nor another - awful!
I did read the reviews and thought this is the kind of book that I can ad lib to and make it my own but I found it banal and disappointing. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Cross Mummy
5.0 out of 5 stars When
When you get stuck in fairy land THIS is the book you must of read.
How to get in and more importantly how to get out (IF you want to. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Terry
4.0 out of 5 stars I instruct you to get this.
Training to be a teacher has meant I'm constantly on the hunt for interesting books for children. Although this is fictionalised, it would be a fantastic way into the non-fiction... Read more
Published 19 months ago by lizardhat
4.0 out of 5 stars great illustrations and great words
I just love Neil Gaiman and his wonderful storytelling so wanted to introduce my grandaughter to him as soon as possible
Published 21 months ago by diane green
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull
I'm not sure what age children this is aimed at, but it's structureless and my 5-year-old daughter found it exceedingly dull. Read more
Published on 17 July 2012 by RAB
5.0 out of 5 stars Instructions For Life
Neil Gaiman has rather captured the quintessential flavour of fairy tales and, like the title for this review, could almost be instructions for life.
Published on 18 Oct 2010 by Mr. Charles James Craig
5.0 out of 5 stars Trainee teachers interpretation
The author of this book is very successful, having written "The Graveyard Book", "Coraline" and "Stardust" (both major films) and also "The Wolves in the Wall. Read more
Published on 23 Aug 2010 by Miss Rose
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