The Singing Bones

The folktales and fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm "have never been illustrated like this," writes Neil Gaiman in his lyrical introduction to The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan (The Bird King; Tales from Outer Suburbia). By "like this," Gaiman means with dramatically lit photographs of Tan's exquisite, primal sculptures that "suggest" more than "describe." "The Frog King," "Hansel and Gretel," "Rapunzel," "The Singing Bone," "Jorinda and Joringel" and 70 more are represented by very short excerpts, with context-providing plot summaries in the back, suggestions for further reading and an essay on the Brothers Grimm by expert Jack Zipes.

Tan appreciates the ambiguity of fairy tales and how they are "strung between the real and unreal, the literal and impossible, convincing and absurd." All of this shines through Tan's powerful, enigmatic papier-mâché and clay sculptures he describes as orange-like in size and "much inspired by Inuit stone carvings and pre-Columbian clay figurines." A marvel, a masterpiece, a must. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness
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