Children’s Book Review: Instructions

Instructions
by Neil Gaiman
illustrated by Charles Vess
In Neil Gaimen’s Instructions, an unseen guide leads an adventurer through unknown lands.  With his instructions, the hero knows to trust the wolves, travel through the forest, and be wary of the ferryman.   The journey, as well as the book’s artwork, is enchanting, but the real magic can be found in the relationship between the hero and guide.  Though the identity of the latter is never revealed, the reader can feel his or her love for the hero, and senses that through his scary adventures, the hero will never be harmed.   The guide never encourages violence of any kind, and often reminds his charge to be polite and generous, as every hero should be.  By following the instructions, the hero returns home, only to find it, the guide tells us, a little smaller than he remembered.  Here, for the first time in the story, the guide gives the hero a choice—to make a new home, to have another adventure, or to rest.  Parents and children will be warmed by this heartfelt story of the guided journey to independence.

~ Susan Chodakiewitz is the author of the children’s picture book Too Many Visitors for One Little House and the founder ofBooksicals, Encouraging Reading Through the Arts. Too Many Visitors is now available as an ibook for ipad and iphones with a fun read-aloud musical narration. http://bit.ly/ibookVisitors ~

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