Review: The Singing Bones


A unique and alluring art book showcasing Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures based on the timeless and compelling fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.

In this beautifully presented volume, the essence of seventy-five fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm is wonderfully evoked by Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures. Nameless princes, wicked stepsisters, greedy kings, honourable peasants and ruthless witches,
tales of love, betrayal, adventure and magical transformation: all inspiration for this stunning gallery of sculptural works. Introduced by Grimm Tales author Philip Pullman and leading fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes, The Singing Bones breathes
new life into some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales. ‘These little figures of clay, with their simplified features, their single attributes, are perfect realisations of the strangeness of the characters they represent.’ – Philip Pullman

I have scheduled this post so that it publishes literally one minute after this book is officially released. So yeah. Not breaking any rules here.
I haven’t reviewed a graphic book in a while, and this is absolutely perfect. There’s only one word to describe it, and that’s beautiful. The art is beautiful. The book itself is beautiful. The texture of the pages is beautiful. It’s just a book that screams “ELEGANCE” and “BEAUTY”.
The Singing Bones has an art piece on every page, and opposite that page, a snippet from the fairy tail that has inspired the art piece. There’s not much I can say, so I’ll just leave you with some pages from the book.

I love how he didn’t go for the clichéd sculpture of a glass slipper. Instead, he’s created a unique art piece showcasing an abstract concept of a gold, beautiful woman trapped in a dark, soot-filled chimney. CREATIVITY IS A+ HERE.

They expected her to work hard from morning till night. She had to get up before dawn, carry water to the house, make the fire, cook and was. Moreover, he stepsisters did everything imaginable to cause her grief and make her look ridiculous. For instance, they poured peas and lentils into the hearth ashes so she had to sit there and pick them out. In the evening, when she was exhausted from working, they took away her bed, and she had to lie next to the hearth in the ashes. This is why she always looked so dusty and dirty and why they called her Cinderella.

All Fur

The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest

Hansel and Gretel

Faithful Johannes

The Frog King


Thank you for Allen and Unwin for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

The Singing Bones is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.

  • Title: The Singing Bones
  • Author/Illustrator: Shaun Tan
  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Allen and Unwin (September 23rd, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781760111038
  • URL: Allen and Unwin

2 thoughts on “Review: The Singing Bones

    1. Oh you HAVE to have it. It is just beautiful, and his art style is so good. The edges are rough where they need to symbolise age or wear, but smooth when he wants to symbolise beauty and perfection. He really does have an eye for the aesthetic!


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