Instructions

( 23 )

Overview

Trust Dreams.
Trust your heart,
and trust your story.

A renowned storyteller whose words have transported readers to magical realms and an acclaimed illustrator of lushly imagined fairy-tale landscapes guide a traveler safely through lands unknown and yet strangely familiar . . .

. . . and home again.

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Overview

Trust Dreams.
Trust your heart,
and trust your story.

A renowned storyteller whose words have transported readers to magical realms and an acclaimed illustrator of lushly imagined fairy-tale landscapes guide a traveler safely through lands unknown and yet strangely familiar . . .

. . . and home again.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Julie Just
Like a more impish version of Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Gaiman's book offers riddling advice that could be for young or old.
—The New York Times
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. (May)
New York Times Book Review
“Like a more impish version of Dr. Seuss’s ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” Gaiman’s book offers riddling advice that could be for young or old.”
Children's Literature - Keri Collins Lewis
When one sets out on an adventure into unknown territory, it is helpful if someone with insight and experience can offer advice on how to navigate. This quest begins as a never-seen-before door appears in the garden wall, and the androgynous cat—an artistic allusion to "Puss in Boots"—steps into a landscape filled with the characters of traditional fairy tales: a crowned frog, three pigs on a picnic, Little Red Riding Hood, and a club-wielding giant. As the cat walks on, the landscapes become darker, the characters less familiar, and the instructions more detailed. For those who are brave enough to trust their dreams, legendary experiences beckon; then, when the journey is done, home and rest await. The text of this unusual picture book is a poem previously published in A Wolf at the Door, a collection of creatively revised fairy tales for the middle grade to young adult audience. Now paired with Vess's imaginative and ethereal illustrations, the picture book format with its costumed cat as the protagonist is designed, ostensibly, to appeal to young audiences. The hero's journey will resonate with readers of all ages, who will sense the deeper significance of the strange lands and curious characters encountered. More than a set of directions to navigate through the realm of fairy tales, this quirky tale will appeal to those seeking a unique graduation gift with more gravitas than Dr. Seuss, as well as anyone interested in fantasy and fairy tales. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis
VOYA - Judy Brink-Drescher
A jauntily attired cat that walks on two legs spies a door he has never seen before. In passing through it, he enters a magical world where giants and witches, princesses and dragons, and eagles and wolves may—or may not—help him on his journey home. Guided only by sage advice, the cat and a companion he picks up along the way must decide in whom or in what to trust and how to behave accordingly in this strange new world. Instructions, in short, is about the lessons of life, which incredibly Gaiman (acclaimed author of Coraline [HarperCollins, 2008/VOYA June 2008] and 2009 Newbery Award winner) manages to somehow nail in a mere forty pages. Some of the text expands upon his earlier works, but when coupled with Vess's imagery, one is reminded of an array of mythological fables and symbolism from archetypal children's literature ranging from Charon's Ferryman of the Dead and the The Chronicles of Narnia to Puss n' Boots, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and numerous others. Despite the fact this book has all of the earmarks of a children's tale, young adults should be encouraged to invest the few minutes it takes to peruse these words of wisdom. Moreover, although the text clearly stands on its own as thought-provoking poetry, it is only enhanced by Vess's mystical, creative, and heartwarming illustrations that simultaneously strike a chord of wonder and familiarity. This book is the total package and highly recommended for audiences of all ages. Reviewer: Judy Brink-Drescher
Kirkus Reviews
A magical, incantatory poem-or perhaps a homily-first published in the Ellen Datlow/Terri Windling collection A Wolf at the Door in 2000 is made new with Vess's art. It could be instructions for a child, a writer, a newly minted adult or an elder. It strikes immediately at the place where stories live and provides a feast of archetypes. The narrator instructs a furry cat/fox-like creature that walks upright and wears a tunic and boots, of course, to go through the gate he hasn't seen before (after saying "please") and walk down the path. Don't touch the imp knocker on the green door, give the old woman what she asks for and she "will point the way to the castle." Help those who need it. Don't be jealous; "diamonds and roses" are as nasty as toads when they fall from your lips, "colder, too, and sharper, and they cut." Remember your own name, ride the eagle, be polite. The sinuous landscape is peopled with figures readers will recognize, like the Goose Girl and a crowned frog, and those they might not, like trolls and giants and dragons. Roses, trees, land and sea have shimmering life of their own and wind around the words as if made for them, which of course they were. (Picture book. 7 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061960314
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 7 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books for readers of all ages, and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Shirley Jackson Award and the Locus Award for Best Novelette for his story "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains." Originally from England, he now lives in America.

Charles Vess's work has graced the pages of numerous publications and has been exhibited internationally. Some of his other books include Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman, a circle of cats and Seven Wild Sisters with Charles de Lint, a new edition of Peter Pan, and The Ladies of Grace Adieu with Susanna Clarke. His awards include a Mythopoeic, Ink Pot, two Chesley, two World Fantasy, and two Eisner awards.

Biography

Neil Gaiman thought he wrote comic books. But a newspaper editor, of course, set him straight.

Back when he was riding the diabolical headwinds of his popular series of graphic novels, The Sandman, the author attended a party where he introduced himself as a comic-book writer to a newspaper's literary editor. But when the editor quickly realized who this actually was -- and the glaze melted from his eyes -- he offered Gaiman a correction tinged with astonishment: "My God, man, you don't write comics, you write graphic novels." Relating the story to theLos Angeles Times in 1995, Gaiman said, "I suddenly felt like someone who had been informed that she wasn't a hooker, that in fact she was a lady of the evening."

Gaiman's done much more, of course, than simply write graphic novels, having coauthored, with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, a comic novel about the Apocalypse; adapted into hardcover the BBC miniseries Neverwhere about the dark underworld beneath the streets of London; and, inspired by his young daughter, put a horrifying spin on C.S. Lewis' wardrobe doors for Coraline, a children's book about a passageway into a magical, yet malevolent, land.

But it is The Sandman that is Gaiman's magnum opus.

Though he had told a career counselor in high school that he wanted to pen comic books, he had a career as a freelance journalist before his first graphic novel, Violent Cases, was published in England in 1987. DC Comics discovered him and The Sandman was born. Or reborn, actually. The comic debuted back in 1939 with a regular-Joe crime fighter in the lead. But in Gaiman's hands the tale had a more otherworldly spin, slowing introducing readers to the seven siblings Endless: Dream, Death, Desire, Destiny, Destruction, Despair and Delirium (once Delight). They all have their roles in shaping the fates of man. In fact, when Death was imprisoned for decades, the results were devastating. Richard Nixon reached The White House and Michael Jackson the Billboard charts.

Direction from newspaper editors notwithstanding, to Gaiman, these stories are still comic books. The man who shuttled back and forth between comics and classics in his formative years and can pepper his writing with references to Norse mythology as well as the vaudevillian rock group Queen, never cottoned to such highbrow/lowbrow distinctions. Comparing notes on a yachting excursion with members of the Irish rock band U2, the writer who looks like a rock star and Delirium and the rock stars who gave themselves comic-worthy names such as Bono and The Edge came to a realization: Whether the medium is pop music or comic books, not being taken seriously can be a plus. "It's safer to be in the gutter," he told The Washington Post in 1995.

In 1995, Gaiman brought The Sandman to a close and began spending more time on his nongraphic fiction, including a couple of short-story collections. A few years later he released Stardust, an adult fairy tale that has young Tristan Thorn searching for a fallen star to woo the lovely but cold Victoria Forester. In 2001, he placed an ex-con named Shadow in the middle of a war between the ancient and modern dieties in American Gods. Coming in October 2002 is another departure: an audio recording of Two Plays for Voices, which stars Bebe Neuwirth as a wise queen doing battle with a bloodthirsty child and Brian Dennehy as the Angel of Vengeance investigating the first crime in history in heaven's City of Angels.

Gaiman need not worry about defining his artistic relevance, since so many other seem to do it for him. Stephen King, Roger Zelazny and Harlan Ellison are among those who have contributed introductions to his works. William Gibson, the man who coined the term "cyberspace," called him a "a writer of rare perception and endless imagination" as well as "an American treasure." (Even though he's, technically, a British treasure transplanted to the American Midwest.) Even Norman Mailer has weighed in: "Along with all else, Sandman is a comic strip for intellectuals, and I say it's about time."

The gushiest praise, however, may come from Frank McConnell, who barely contained himself in the pages of the political and artistic journal Commonweal. Saying Gaiman "may just be the most gifted and important storyteller in English," McConnell crowned Sandman as the most important act of fiction of the day. "And that, not just because of the brilliance and intricacy of its storytelling -- and I know few stories, outside the best of Joyce, Faulkner, and Pynchon, that are more intricate," he wrote in October 1995, " but also because it tells its wonderful and humanizing tale in a medium, comic books, still largely considered demimonde by the tenured zombies of the academic establishment."

"If Sandman is a 'comic,'" he concluded, "then The Magic Flute is a 'musical' and A Midsummer Night's Dream is a skit. Read the damn thing: it's important."

Good To Know

Some fascinating factoids from our interview with Gaiman:

"One of the most enjoyable bits of writing Sandman was getting authors whose work I love to write the introductions for the collected graphic novels -- people like Steve Erickson, Gene Wolfe, Harlan Ellison, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Mikal Gilmore, and Samuel R. Delany."

"I have a big old Addams Family house, with -- in the summertime -- a vegetable garden, and I love growing exotic pumpkins. As a boy in England I used to dream about Ray Bradbury Hallowe'ens, and am thrilled that I get them these days. Unless I'm on the road signing people's books, of course."

"According to my daughters, my most irritating habit is asking for cups of tea."

"I love radio -- and love the availability of things like the Jack Benny radio shows in MP3 format. I'm addicted to BBC radio 7, and keep buying boxed CD sets of old UK radio programs, things like Round the Horne and Hancock's Half Hour. Every now and again I'll write a radio play."

"I love thunderstorms, old houses, and dreams."

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    1. Hometown:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 10, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portchester, England
    1. Education:
      Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 22, 2010

    Instructions for Life

    This book maybe intened for children but the wisdom contained is for people of all ages. Those, like myself, old enough to understand and rememeber the Fairy Tales referenced, and those who have yet to hear the tales. Here is hopping that those Fairy Tales will be shared with the young ones, so that they may know the wonder, joy, and magic I did upon hearing them. Mr. Vess's illustrations remind me of the Fairy Tale books I was lucky enough to grow up with, the images will last a lifetime in memory and the stories they evoke will echo for years to come.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautiful and Informative

    Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. Everything he writes is fascinating! "Instructions" is no different. I bought this book to read to my daughter. Reading it draws me back to my childhood where I would go on adventures. I wish I'd had this book then. Open a child's imagination, and help them return home safe, with this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    Terrible

    Terrible

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    No good

    Should throw to trash

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Captivating!

    Open the book, walk through the page, and never look back....that is how I felt when beginning this book. Mr. Gaiman has exquisitely taken us on a journey to safely pass through a fairytale. Mr. Vess (illustrator) has manifested this world for us to journey through as the pages flip past us. Before we know it, we are safely home...or safely making a home....or safely resting.....
    I love this book....Fairy tales sparked my love for literature when I was very young. Left with the tattered page books that were hand-me-downs from my older siblings, my imagination was the only thing to take me on my travels. In the finely crafted picture book by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess the "fairy tale world" is brought to life and made for us to enjoy as never before. For young and old alike this title is perfect for storytimes for groups of children or for a cozy storytime between parent and child. I recommend this title to book lovers everywhere.

    Follow me on my blog for more reviews:
    http://mindofmechelle.blogspot.com/2010/06/eyes-peer-from-undergrowth.html

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