Review Detail

Kids Fiction 949
Delightfully Creepy Retellings
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
This wonderfully creepy anthology of the Grimm Brother’s fairy tales, THE SINGING BONES is a perfect read-aloud addition to bedtime stories. Shaun Tan is known for his exquisite and often haunting illustrations, and THE SINGING BONES introduces the reader to a few unique mediums. Shaun Tan’s books have never been traditional, so it isn’t surprising that the “illustrations” are pictures of sculptures, which give a very weighty, three-dimensional feel to the book itself. Paired with sparse color pallets of grey, golds, and reds, the reader is asked to pair the short fairytales with the sculptures for the full story.
The stories, while most are less than a paragraph in length, are dark and thought provoking. Younger children can enjoy them at face value, while older children and adults might be left to ponder the deeper messages that have been passed down in various retellings over the centuries. There is a good deal of death in the tales, so while the more adventurous reader might be fine, it could prove to be a bit much for younger readers and listeners.
Shaun Tan’s use of muted backgrounds with flashes of colors provides an interesting contrast and keeps the reader coming back for a second (and third look). The use of mixed media is highly accessible, but more complicated than anything you can interpret from a first glance.
If you enjoy Neil Gaiman stories, fairytale retellings, or art books in any form; this is a perfect book to add to your collection and a refreshing departure from typical fairytale renditions.
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