I am a sucker for illustrated children’s books. I get quite attached to specific editions and consider it a tragedy when some of my favorite tales are reillustrated. It’s the cinematic equivalent of colorizing Casablanca. Imagine my joy to discover that Neil Gaiman, who I love, had paired up with Charles Vess on children’s books.
The two geniuses came together to create Instructions, a short tale for a reader of any age who wants to safely traverse enchanted lands. Like a fairy tale version of Where’s Waldo?, the story and illustrations cover at least three dozen fairy tales and other stories. Every time you go back to this book, the illustrations will reveal another hidden figure tucked away in the branch of a tree, or peeking out from behind a building. I had the fancy upon reading this that Cimorene from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede would have kept this in a pocket to safely guide her through her journeys.
I would recommend Instructions for anyone who loves fairy and folk tales. The more you have read, the more you will get out of this book, which makes me feel perfectly justified in keeping it on my bookshelf as an adult.