The Singing Bones, by Shaun Tan

In The Singing Bones (Arthur A. Levine Books, October 11, 2016) Shaun Tan offers three dimensional art to evoke the spirit of various of Grimm's fairy tales.  Snippets of the tales are presented along side images of small sculptures.  The seventy-five sculptural arrangements are weird, evocative, and eldritch embodiments of the stories; each one calls for contemplation and a pause to enjoy it before turning to the next.  The peculiar is highlighted, the mood is captured, the mythic is embodied.

If you don't know the stories already, you will maybe find the book frustrating, because the stories aren't told in their entirety.  If you know the stories already, you might, like me, want very much to reread them with the new images in mind.  Here's a sample page (Little Red Cap), which shows how a small bit of text is pared with an image.  The page size is big enough so that the details of the images can be beautifully appreciated.

This is a book that would make a perfect gift for a fan of fairy tales, if, again like me, you are thinking ahead to Christmas!  It's a very good present book to give to someone you want to give a book too but aren't sure what, the sort of book that would be a nice addition to any coffee table.  It would make an especially nice gift if paired with modeling clay, because the small sculptures Tan has created are more than a bit inspiring....

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


  1. Oh my this is gorgeous, love the one of Little Red Cap. I know someone who might enjoy this, thank you for sharing.

  2. I'm thinking of getting this for my tiny new nephew. Right now he's very VERY into looking at pictures of art, and I figure when he gets a bit older we can read the snippets of stories together and invent the rest of the story ourselves.


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