Instructions by Neil Gaiman

From TheBookbag
Jump to navigationJump to search

Instructions by Neil Gaiman

Buy Instructions by Neil Gaiman at or

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: An interesting twist on fantasy and fairy tales, pitching the story as a set of instructions. Gaiman should be applauded for trying something a bit different, even though it doesn't sit entirely comfortably with any age group.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 40 Date: June 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1408808641

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram

Go through the mysterious door, mind the imp, trust the wolves and answer the ferryman's question carefully. Neil Gaiman takes us on a tour of a fantasy land with a series of instructions for surviving the adventure. You'll discover wonders beyond your wildest dreams, and return home safely, a little older and a little wiser.

Instructions is a smart idea, taking a fresh look at a well-worn magical path. The worlds of fairy tales and fantasies are beautifully woven together, and by just giving the bare instructions your imagination can run wild. It requires a basic knowledge of the genre to be able to fill in all the gaps, but there's nothing that will leave you confused. It can be read as a picture book with little 'uns, but slightly older children - confident readers or perhaps even teens - will get more from it. It doesn't sit perfectly with any age group, but that's more a case of universal appeal than being inappropriately pitched. It does something a little bit different, and that's to be applauded.

Truth be told, I'm not a massive fan of Charles Vess' illustrations. There's nothing technically wrong with them - they're beautiful and the traditional air does bring home all the references to classic fairy tales. They feel a bit safe though. For me, Gaiman is at his best when the illustrators really let loose too, as in Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean or The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly. It's a matter of personal taste rather than a legitimate criticism of the illustrations. I'm sure they'll strike a chord with many readers, and even though they didn't with me, I still loved Instructions.

Neil Gaiman knows how to do fantasy. You're immediately sucked into the world, hooked on the perfectly-chosen prose, and happy to lose yourself in your imagination. I can well imagine teachers using Instructions for all sorts of wonderful lessons, whether inviting pupils to fill in the gaps, or to write their own instructions for an exciting new adventure. Instructions dangles all sorts of tempting morsels just in front of you that you'll have to reach out for. Warmly recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

Top Ten Books for Young Readers That Feature a Passage Between Worlds features lots of equally magical books. Me and You by Anthony Browne takes the Goldilocks fairy tale and flips it on its head. If you've enjoyed the Gaiman/Vess combination, then do check out Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman and The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy Instructions by Neil Gaiman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Instructions by Neil Gaiman at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Instructions by Neil Gaiman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Instructions by Neil Gaiman at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.