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Instructions (Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things)

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,176 Ratings  ·  437 Reviews
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.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by HarperCollins (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 03, 2010 Aldrin rated it really liked it
Reading Instructions is akin to being in a hypnotic state. Its first couple of pages suggest that you "Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before. Say 'please' before you open the latch. Go through..." The preceding pithy commands instigate the hypnogenesis; they are the first of many that make up the short poem that flows through this new picture book, the latest collaboration between Coraline author Neil Gaiman and The Book of Ballads and Sagas illustrator Charles Vess.

In Instructi
Oh, dear. Perhaps I just wasn't in the right mood for this particular "journey" today as I don't seem to have loved this as much as most other reviewers... I really did appreciate many aspects of it, and some of the "instructions" are just wonderful (I especially liked the return part of the journey, with all the trust) but some felt a bit awkward or unexplained, especially in the context of the greater journey, and I guess I just wanted a bit more overall. The narrative is not really enough of ...more
Jubilation Lee
I feel super out of the loop, friends, because I had no idea that "Instructions" had been published in its very own adorable little stand-alone book, instead of just cropping up here and there in various fantasy story collections.

The illustrations are gorgeous--of course they are, it's Charles Vess for God's sake--and I for one am all in favor of implementing some sort of mandatory drinking game, where you take a drink every time you can identify a new fairy tale, because I feel this would be am
Lisa Vegan
Aug 12, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all ages/stages; those who like philosophical picture books & are familiar with fairy tales
This might be my favorite Gaiman book, so far. I always want to love his work more than I do. I don’t know that I adored this, but I really appreciate it. The story is a set of simple instructions, about one per page, about how to live life, and it’s amusing because it uses how to survive a trip through fairy tales as its examples. Most of the time I was thinking How clever! although at times I noticed myself arguing with the philosophy presented, but I appreciated what was being attempted and I ...more
May 18, 2010 Oscar rated it really liked it
One of the things that makes Neil Gaiman a relatively unique – and popular – writer is his subtle incorporation of mythological and fairy tale motifs in his fiction. One of my favourite stories in this respect is Instructions, a piece that appeared before in short story collections like M Is for Magic and Fragile Things. It’s great news then, that this little tale has now been published separately with wonderful illustrations by Charles Vess, who’s worked with Gaiman before on works like Stardus ...more
I'm still trying to figure this one out....

I get that it's Gaiman's answer to Dr. Seuss's Oh! The Places You'll Go. I get that it's saying, "The lessons we learn from fairy tales can help us throughout life." I get that it's full of allusions to fairy tales all through it. But what I'm not getting is ALL of the allusions.

Example: I get the reference to two sisters, one that speaks diamonds and one that speaks toads and frogs. I know that story. But why does Gaiman tell our hero not to trust the
Jan Rice
Apr 02, 2013 Jan Rice rated it it was amazing
Just got this and read it for the first time in 10 minutes. I wanted it for the fairy-tale pictures and the how-to prose-poem. Many of the prior reviews say that it's about what to do if one happens to find oneself in a fairy tale, but for me it's just about what to do, period.

Incorporates bits and pieces you will recognize from various traditions and tales, some general and some more idiosyncratic--the latter hinting this could be do-it-yourself advice as well as received wisdom.

It was a birth
May 04, 2015 Theresa rated it really liked it
A picture book kinda for adults, though I would give it to school age kids who love fairy tales/myths or are rather serious children. Love all the fairy tale, folk tale, mythology allusions.

Not a fan of the illustrations - too drab. Though I liked that the illustration of princesses featured one p(rincess)oc.
Dec 01, 2014 Diane added it
Shelves: fantasy, childrens-ya
Beautifully written poem. It's an interesting construct, a series of commands and recommendations, which tell the story of a Journey, the point of which we never do discover. It's open ended, which is great for the imagination and there's a lot going on in the illustrations which are vibrant and beautiful.
Jun 04, 2010 Megan rated it it was amazing
First off, to satisfy the tickle you will inevitably have to have this book read to you (and to keep me from having to huff paint and do it myself), watch Neil Gaiman read the entirety of Instructions aloud here.

I am lucky to have read so many wonderful children's books these past couple of days. Maurice Sendak and Neil Gaiman make for some excellent childhood reading even if you aren't a kid. This particular book is a dreamy instruction guide for anybody embarking on their own fairy tale. It wa
Jay Sensi
Mar 08, 2014 Jay Sensi rated it liked it
Neil Gaiman manages to evoke many emotions in this whimsical tale. The book is about a personified cat that must follow a set of instructions if he is to exit back through the wooden gate where his journey began. Through the tale he comes across some fairy tale features well known to the readers. Cinderella's pumpkin carriage is parked behind some trees. The Three Little Pigs are having a picnic. The Frog Prince rests on the lawn. Gaiman provides a sense of equilibrium with the features of famil ...more
Dec 05, 2015 Akoss rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A picture book that's much deeper than you will think at first.
It's full of references but is also light-hearted and whimsical enough to be enjoyed by a toddler.
The beautiful graphic is an added bonus.
I recommend it for Neil Gaiman fans (adults and kids).
Dec 31, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing
LOVE LOVE LOVE this picture book. Could be for young and old because you will take from the words and gorgeous illustrations that which has meaning for you.
Bernard Schaffer
Jun 05, 2011 Bernard Schaffer rated it it was amazing
Exquisite and perfect. Gaiman is at the top of his game and Charles Vess's artwork is so good I want him to come over my house and paint fairies and sprites all over my walls. Those two are a winning combination that never fails.
Aug 02, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kid-books
Neat illustrations, but the text will be way over the heads of young children. A certain amount of foreknowledge of the ways and memes of fantasy and fairy tales is helpful/necessary.
Ana Maria Rînceanu
Perfect for bedtime!
Sep 27, 2015 Josiah rated it it was ok
"Trust ghosts.
Trust those that
you have helped to
help you in their turn.

Trust dreams.

Trust your heart
and trust

Instructions, P. 22

Neil Gaiman is so good at writing picture books that have real heart to them. Instructions carries the same loving inner spirit of poetic goodness that tenderly quickened Blueberry Girl, etched as its predecessor was with words of consolation for our past mistakes and rays of tangible hope for a future that can be better. I always listen closely t
Dec 30, 2010 Karissa rated it it was amazing
I love Neil Gaiman's stories, poems, graphic novel, and books. So realize that I am giving you this review with a somewhat biased viewpoint. Instructions is a poem that I first read in Gaiman's collection of children's stories "M is for Magic." I loved the poem, which is an somewhat eccentric list of instructions about how to survive a fairy tale...and on a deeper level how to live you life in general.

This is a great book for young children, older children, adults and all ages in between. My thr
Jun 21, 2010 Tressa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile, poetry, 2010
Neil Gaiman's adult fiction is a little too whimsical for my taste, but since I expect a picture book to contain its fair share of whimsy, his newest juvenile fiction gets a thumbs up from me.

Instructions: Everything You'll Need To Know on Your Journey is about a bipedal cat who must follow a set of instructions if he is to exit back through the wooden gate where his journey began.

Beyond the wall, the garden looks tranquil at first glance. Cinderella's pumpkin carriage is parked behind some tree
Jun 20, 2010 Bookwatcher rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody who belive in fairy tale
One word to describe this book: Marvelous!

After Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess' Stardust Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie (Graphic Novel) by Neil Gaiman I decided to buy all Gaiman&Vess partnership. Instruction didn't disappointed me. It's really a magic story with unforgettable illustrations.
I read it to my 5 years old nephew and he love it and ask me to tell it again... and again... and again... and again... and one more time.

5 stars

FYI, I strongly advice the audio book too... it's free, Neil Gaiman himself put it on Youtube (it's his voice)
This one ----> Instructions
Oct 25, 2015 Zoe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, art
Every graduate has a copy of "Oh, the places you'll go". They don't need another one. Every book lover, adolescent, graduate and human, provided they have an iota of creativity, needs this book, however. It's short, sweet, doesn't always make total sense and can be interpreted however you need to interpret it (kindly, peacefully, menacingly...). A beautiful read, an excellent little gift.
Wyatt Packard
Sep 30, 2013 Wyatt Packard rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Instructions is one of my favorite Neil Gaiman poems and is something that is as wonderful from a reader's perspective as it is from a writer's or those that are interested in archetypes. Instructions tells of the journey. Not a specific one, but one that in it's deepest sense is in fact instructions. As I was reading I found myself thinking of many of the adventure fantasy novels and myths I have read and Instructions is that journey. The one you find every hero going on, and every character fa ...more
May 01, 2015 Alice rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-25-stars
4.25 Stars I think I am going to have to read this book over several times...there is a lot of wisdom in it.

I think it is a great road map for life.

Very interesting, going to have to read it again to fully grasp all the instructions!

(I don't care for the illustrations...but I also don't hate them"
Rhys Thomas
Feb 20, 2015 Rhys Thomas rated it it was amazing
Just a beautiful poem in the form of a picture book that tells you what to do if you find yourself in a fairy tale land. There's also a great YouTube video of it, narrated by Neil Gaiman. My copy was a gift from Amy's aunty.
May 13, 2015 Marsha rated it it was amazing
The aptly-titled Instructions plays with the typical fairy tale structure. Mr. Gaiman uses very spare prose to remind readers of all the twists and turns that await those who travel on the path or stray from it. This is a book that is and isn’t a story, is whimsical and sober at once, playful and cautionary. The illustrations by the incomparable Charles Vess are a wonderful accompaniment, with surprises and secret details sprinkled here and there throughout the pages. A tree does not merely shel ...more
Gary Anderson
May 07, 2011 Gary Anderson rated it it was amazing
This illustrated version of Neil Gaiman's poem "Instructions" tells "everything you'll need to know on your journey." The words and images seem to come from another time. The illustrations perfectly complement Gaiman's advice, which emphasizes the importance of courage, generosity, and an adventurous spirit, without quite guaranteeing that everything will always go well or as planned.

Life's metaphors are rendered here in words and pictures that will be satisfying to both children and adults. I c
Mar 22, 2016 Scott rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Give a listen to the audio book as well, as he narrates it himself.
Jul 17, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
I really liked the concept of fitting in advice from every fairy tale into one book, but I kind of felt like there was a little something missing in this tale. I wanted more interaction between the reader and the story. I might have liked more action, but I still thought the flow of this story was done well and I appreciated the style it was told in. I would recommend for diehard fans of Neil Gaiman and those in love with fairy tales.

*Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot
Gregory Rothbard
Oct 11, 2011 Gregory Rothbard rated it really liked it
Neil Gaiman, teams up with illustrator Charles Vess, to bring an engaging invitation to journey. Instructions, is everything you need to know on your journey. Where does that well lead to? How do you treat the old lady that sits under the tree? What, on earth, do you do with an eagle feather? The illustrations by Charles Vess are just right for young imaginations: not to boring, nor too scary. This book may be overlooked due to a cover that is understated, but don’t overlook it, the book is fant ...more
Dec 28, 2015 Jack rated it it was amazing
Shelves: k-g-4
One of several pairings between Neil Gaiman, author, and Charles Vess, illustrator. Others are: Blueberry Girl and Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust #1.
Instructions has been described as Neil Gaiman's respose to Dr. Seuss' Oh, The Places You'll Go!. It has a fairy tales setting and, although age listed for PreK to grade 3. the book is really for any age of fairy tale story lover.
Beautiful illustrations by Charles Vess.
Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool - 3
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Other Books in the Series

Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • A Study in Emerald
  • The Fairy Reel
  • October in the Chair
  • Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire
  • Closing Time
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  • Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story
  • Harlequin Valentine
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“Remember your name. Do not lose hope--what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story.” 63 likes
“When you reach the little house, the place your journey started,

you will recognize it, although it will seem

much smaller than you remember.

Walk up the path, and through the garden gate

you never saw before but once.

And then go home.

Or make a home.

And rest.”
More quotes…