The Singing Bones

Shaun Tan. Scholastic/Levine, $24.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-545-94612-4
Tan (Rules of Summer) fashions 75 haunting sculptures, each meant to capture the spirit of one of Grimms’ fairy tales. A short excerpt from the tale that inspired the artwork appears on the left of each spread, accompanied by a photograph of its sculpture on the right. Tan acknowledges Inuit and pre-Colombian influences in an afterword, but each figure carries its own creaturely spark. For Rumpelstiltskin (“The door suddenly opened, and a little man entered”), Tan creates a scarlet imp with dancing limbs and a toothy grin. For the Brementown musicians, the heads of the four animals are stacked as on a totem pole, mouths agape as they sing and shriek. In a foreword, Neil Gaiman writes, “I want to hold these sculptures, to pick them up. I want to squeeze them in my hands,” capturing the book’s mix of charm and frustration. Although readers can only see Tan’s remarkable artistry in two dimensions, the figures exert an almost primal force. Rather than simply represent what happens in these stories, these pieces embody their power. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/15/2016
Release date: 10/11/2016
Genre: Children's
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