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Wakefield Greenhill Primary School

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Story time


Go to and listen to Neil Gaiman read his book, Instructions. Which fairy tale characters and settings did you recognise in the story? Why is the story called Instructions? Did you hear any instructions being given in the story?

Instructions by Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Charles Vess

Instructions by Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Charles Vess

All about instructions


Carefully read through The Features of Instructions.

The Features of Instructions


Instructions are sentences that give commands or orders. They are bossy and tell the reader what to do.


• are usually short, sharp sentences that do not contain much description or story language. Open the gate. Go down the garden path.

• always contain bossy verbs that tell someone what to do or not do. These verbs are always in the present tense. Listen for the doorbell. Do not use the door knocker.

• are addressed to the reader, as if the reader is being spoken to directly by someone. Go into the wood. Watch out for the wolves.

• often ‘list’ things to do or avoid doing. Walk through the wood, jump over the wall and then climb into the tree.

• can be numbered or have bullet points.

1. Jump on board the ferry

2. Pay the ferryman

3. Stay sat down till you reach the far side of the river

How many instructions can you find from the extract below?

Extract from Instructions by Neil Gaiman


Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before, say “Please” before you open the latch, go through, walk down the path. A red metal imp hangs from the front door, as a knocker. Do not touch it – it will bite your fingers. Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat nothing. However, if any creature tells you that it hungers, feed it. If it tells you that it is dirty, clean it. If it cries to you that it is hurt, if you can, ease its pain. From the back garden you will be able to see the wild wood. The deep well you walk past leads to Winter’s realm; there is another land at the bottom of it. If you turn around here, you can walk back, safely; you will lose no face. I will think no less of you. Once through the garden you will be in the wood. The trees are old. Eyes peer from the undergrowth. Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman. She may ask for something; give it to her. She will point the way to the castle. Inside it are three princesses. Do not trust the youngest. Walk on. In the clearing beyond the castle the twelve months sit, warming their feet, exchanging tales. They may do favours for you, if you are polite. You may pick strawberries in December’s frost. Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where you are going.