Instructions by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Charles Vess

I once fell in love with a poem titled Instructions by Neil Gaiman. That was a few years back, and I’ve read it often since then. It captures the essence of a fairy tale perfectly. Not just the essence of a fairy tale, but the experience of a fairy tale…the reading of it, the character’s journey, the reader’s journey, the writer’s journey. It’s a wonderful poem. I was so excited when I found out that it was being made into it’s own little book and even more excited when I heard that Charles Vess was on board to illustrate it! While I love Gaiman’s pairings with Dave McKean, I can think of no better artist for him to pair up with on a poem about fairy tales than Charles Vess, the master of fae art.

The book turned out to be every bit as beautiful as I thought it would be and then some. I didn’t realize until I flipped the first page, until I read the lines:

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never
saw before,
Say “please” before you open the latch,
go through,

and then turned the page and was greeted with the beautiful land that Vess created how much this poem begged to be accompanied by art. This poem works so well as a picture book as it takes the reader on a journey while simultaneously describing the journey that is reading a tale of fantasy or a tale of faerie.

I hope that one day Gaiman decides to publish a collection of poetry. I’ve always enjoyed the glimpses of poetry he gives us in his short story collections. This is another gem of a book to add to the collection that I’ll return to again and again.


4 Responses

  1. Was Blueberry Girl originally a poem? I think it’s neat that his poems have been turned into this children’s stories. 🙂

  2. ‘Instructions’, is a perfect one to be published in this way, Vess’ artwork looks wonderful. 🙂

  3. Amanda, It was! In fact, Blueberry Girl was originally written for Tori Amos’ daughter. I like that they become children’s stories too 🙂

    Darren, It truly is! Vess’ artwork never ceases to amaze me!

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