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Singing Bones

30 review for The Singing Bones Limited Edition Gift Box

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    An absolutely stunning book of art. It's a hard book to categorize and my shelving is somewhat misleading. It's neither graphic novel nor fairy tale retelling, exactly, though it does contain both graphics and fairy tales. Shaun Tan has crafted 75 beautiful sculptures to represent 75 Brothers Grimm fairy tales, with little snippets from each fairy tale on the adjacent page. Each sculpture is quite simple, but thoughtful and perfectly atmospheric. I must admit that I don't check out that many An absolutely stunning book of art. It's a hard book to categorize and my shelving is somewhat misleading. It's neither graphic novel nor fairy tale retelling, exactly, though it does contain both graphics and fairy tales. Shaun Tan has crafted 75 beautiful sculptures to represent 75 Brothers Grimm fairy tales, with little snippets from each fairy tale on the adjacent page. Each sculpture is quite simple, but thoughtful and perfectly atmospheric. I must admit that I don't check out that many books of art - so I don't know what to expect from this world - but to me at least, this was unlike anything I've ever seen. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Store

  2. 5 out of 5

    karen

    THE WHITE SNAKE i have never said this before, and it goes against all my readers' advisory training, but anyone who gives this book fewer than 5 stars is just flat-out wrong. it is an absolutely stunning book. FOUNDLING apparently, not only can shaun tan draw and paint real good, but he is equally skilled at three-dimensional art and here he has created 75 sculptures ranging in size from 2 1/4 - 16 inches, illustrating various grimm's tales, reminding us how very dark they were in their THE WHITE SNAKE i have never said this before, and it goes against all my readers' advisory training, but anyone who gives this book fewer than 5 stars is just flat-out wrong. it is an absolutely stunning book. FOUNDLING apparently, not only can shaun tan draw and paint real good, but he is equally skilled at three-dimensional art and here he has created 75 sculptures ranging in size from 2 1/4 - 16 inches, illustrating various grimm's tales, reminding us how very dark they were in their original, undisneyfied, form, and also how very few of them we actually know. THE MOON i mean, seriously - HE JUST SAT DOWN ONE DAY AND MADE THIS: THE LITTLE SHROUD in addition, tan also photographed and digitally edited all the pieces appearing in the book himself, which is just showing off at that point. THE BOY WHO LEFT HOME TO FIND OUT ABOUT FEAR the sculptures are perfect - haunting, evocative, textured, suggestive, occasionally unfinished or raggedy-looking, but they all embody a tone or mood so perfectly compatible with the dark weirdness of the tales. FITCHER'S BIRD the detail in some of these is remarkable THE OLD MAN AND HIS GRANDSON SIMELEI MOUNTAIN excerpts taken from this specific edition of the tales: The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm accompany each sculpture on the recto, and the book supplies a summary of each tale in its backmatter, so you can see what you've been missing. i know i am not the only person who, after reading this, is determined to familiarize myself with some of the more obscure grimm tales. if anyone has suggestions for the best collection, i'm all ears. otherwise, i'm just gonna buy this pretty one: from neil gaiman's introduction: There is a tactile quality to the Shaun Tan sculptures. They feel primal, as if they were made in a long-ago age of the world, when the stories were first being shaped, and that perhaps the sculptures came first. and Shaun Tan makes me want to hold these tales close, to rub them with my fingers, to feel the cracks and the creases and the edges of them. He makes me want to pick them up, inspect them from unusual angles, feel the heft and the weight of them. He makes me wonder what damage I could do with them, how badly I could hurt someone if I hit them with a story. These pictures make me want to put the stories in my mouth, knowing that I will eventually have to spit them out again, reluctantly, in words. THE FOX AND THE CAT all of these things are true for me, too, and additionally, i want to find a picture that shows all of the sculptures at once, on a bunch of shelves or something, just to appreciate the scope of his accomplishment. but internet has not provided this visual for me. yet. the closest i could find is this: which is more frustrating than anything.. all these review-pictures were taken by me from the book with my little camera, and are much more impressive and detailed in the actual book, with its tricky-to-photograph glossy paper. (or in any professional-type photos that can easily be found online. use your googler.) here's one, for those of you who don't google well: there's also a cool step-by-step description of process here. just one-hundred percent impressive in every way. this book is a treasure. THE RIDDLE shaun tan, you are great at all things. and if you are ever moving home and cannot fit all these sculptures in your cardboard boxes, i will take them off your hands. come to my blog!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lola

    I found Shaun Tan’s THE ARRIVAL fascinating so, obviously, I couldn’t drive by this beauty without picking it up along the way. Thank goodness I did. Woah, What a book. So this isn’t a novel. Or a graphic novel. Or a collection of poems. Or a compilation of short stories. Or anything you may think, really. On one page there is an excerpt from one of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and on the next one an image of a sculpture Shaun Tan made. And let me tell you they are INCREDIBLE. Worthy of being I found Shaun Tan’s THE ARRIVAL fascinating so, obviously, I couldn’t drive by this beauty without picking it up along the way. Thank goodness I did. Woah, What a book. So this isn’t a novel. Or a graphic novel. Or a collection of poems. Or a compilation of short stories. Or anything you may think, really. On one page there is an excerpt from one of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and on the next one an image of a sculpture Shaun Tan made. And let me tell you they are INCREDIBLE. Worthy of being put in a museum for everyone to admire. And I’m not even exaggerating. I wish this book could come with one of them, because I really, really want one to keep. Shaun Tan is more of an artist than an author of literature, which is fine by me. Everyone has their style and Tan’s is a unique one. I seriously think I’ll forever be super curious about what he will come up with next. His works are powerful and touching and meaningful and so, so memorable. I don’t even need to be told to stay tuned. That’s my constant state when it comes to Shaun Tan. One cannot finish THE SINGING BONES and forget about it the next day. No-no. *pouting* I want a sculpture. Pretty please? Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  4. 4 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    I thought this was going to be more of a storybook...but it's definitely focused on art. And you know what? That's awesome. Pictures are great. Petition to have more books full of pictures and photos because I aM A CHILD and need visuals. It's set out like this: one page has a snippet of a fairy tale, and the next has a weirdly dark photo to go with it. The photos are kind of creepy?!? Which is 5000% awesome. (Although some of them were a bit dull, but most I liked!) Some of the artistic I thought this was going to be more of a storybook...but it's definitely focused on art. And you know what? That's awesome. Pictures are great. Petition to have more books full of pictures and photos because I aM A CHILD and need visuals. It's set out like this: one page has a snippet of a fairy tale, and the next has a weirdly dark photo to go with it. The photos are kind of creepy?!? Which is 5000% awesome. (Although some of them were a bit dull, but most I liked!) Some of the artistic representations of the Grimm tales were just the besssst. I really loved the one for The White Snake (story #8) and The Twelve Huntsman (story #58). Also it introduced me to so many Grimm tales I didn't know?!?? I LOVE THAT. NOTABLE TALES: • There's this one story about a dude who's eating and he turns into a donkey from the food. But he keeps eating because what's done is done, folks. And food should nto be wasted. #relatable • Then there's this epic one where a princess gets jilted so she disguises herself and her women as an army and goes to work for her ex-fiance and he thinks they're the best of ever. • Also there's one where a woman turns her kids into soup.... • OH. And there's a snippet out of one that says "Snow White, Rose Red, would you beat your suitor dead?" And IDK mate, that just seems sensibly relatable. Grimm stories are SO dark and twisted and I love them. I just wish the whole tales had been in the book not just a snippet. "Oh Mother, please stop weeping. Otherwise, I won't be able to get to sleep in my coffin. M little shroud is all wet from the tears you've been shedding on it."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    Shaun Tan is a real artist, and this is a gorgeous book of art. A little hard to explain what it is exactly, definitely not a graphic novel, as it is described in many places. Rather it's an album of Tan's miniature clay and papier-mâché statues accompanied and inspired by 75 of Brothers Grimm fairy tales. I am not sure Tan can take any credit for the fragments of the tales he uses (did he interpret or rework them in any way? I have no idea), but his work is absolutely beautiful. Very often the Shaun Tan is a real artist, and this is a gorgeous book of art. A little hard to explain what it is exactly, definitely not a graphic novel, as it is described in many places. Rather it's an album of Tan's miniature clay and papier-mâché statues accompanied and inspired by 75 of Brothers Grimm fairy tales. I am not sure Tan can take any credit for the fragments of the tales he uses (did he interpret or rework them in any way? I have no idea), but his work is absolutely beautiful. Very often the pairs of fairy tale pieces and statues create perfectly contained art pieces, invoking a certain fully formed mood that requires no further explanation. But sometimes you want to reach out to find out more about the stories. Luckily, there are recaps of all fairy tales at the end of this tome. And oh boy, a bunch of them are a weird mess I didn't fully comprehend.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carol - Reading Writing and Riesling

    My View: What a beautiful collection! Shaun Tan has captured the essence and emotions of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales with his deceivingly simple yet evocative sculptures. The works are eloquent and are beautifully paired with edited extracts from The Complete Fairy Tales translated, introduced and annotated by Jack Zipes (Vintage Books, 1987); these sculptures and extracts are truly memorable and have succeeded in replacing any childhood images I had of the tales. So many emotions fill these pages; My View: What a beautiful collection! Shaun Tan has captured the essence and emotions of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales with his deceivingly simple yet evocative sculptures. The works are eloquent and are beautifully paired with edited extracts from The Complete Fairy Tales translated, introduced and annotated by Jack Zipes (Vintage Books, 1987); these sculptures and extracts are truly memorable and have succeeded in replacing any childhood images I had of the tales. So many emotions fill these pages; the sculptures are pared back, raw and often confronting, others are charming and delightful. I particularly loved the sculptures that are paired with these extracts, The Thumbling, The Stolen Pennies and Faithful Johannes. I think Faithful Johannes is my favourite - the emotions etched on Johannes face are sublime and powerful, so little says so much, the other two I selected are just so simple and yet so beautiful! But don’t be confused by my selection of beautiful, evocative sculptures, Tan also captures the essence of evil just as magnificently with brooding haunting images - I choose to ignore these – they are truly fearful. A beautiful collection that anyone will be proud to have on their bookshelf or coffee table.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Trudie

    Ever since picking up The Little Red Tree in a Melbourne bookstore I have loved the illustrative style of Shaun Tan. His sepia toned book on immigration The Arrival I think is a masterpiece. So when this book appeared with Tan's distinctive take on illustrating the Grimm fairy tales there was no way I was leaving it in the bookshop. So many great illustrators have been associated with the Grimm folk tales - Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Walter Crane and more recently Daniela Drescher and Ever since picking up The Little Red Tree in a Melbourne bookstore I have loved the illustrative style of Shaun Tan. His sepia toned book on immigration The Arrival I think is a masterpiece. So when this book appeared with Tan's distinctive take on illustrating the Grimm fairy tales there was no way I was leaving it in the bookshop. So many great illustrators have been associated with the Grimm folk tales - Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Walter Crane and more recently Daniela Drescher and Andrea Dezso. These earthy stories really do lend themselves to varied artistic interpretations. What sets The Singing Bones apart is that rather than detailed two dimensional drawings these are simple photographs of three dimensional sculptures. Tan explains his work .. I was much inspired by Inuit stone carving and pre-Columbian clay figurines. These exhibit a wonderful blend of whimsy and seriousness, and a well-considered marriage of earthy material - stone and clay .... infused with weightless and magical ideas I agree with Phillip Pullman in his foreword to this book - These little figures of clay, with their simplified features, their single attributes, are perfect realisations of the strangeness of the characters they represent . This is a beautiful collection of 75 mini sculptures and for full enjoyment it is worthwhile to get a copy of the Complete Grimm's fairy tales to read alongside. There were actually 15 or so stories I didn't have in my companion edition but handily this book has a short synopsis of all the tales in the back of the book as well as a nice introduction to Grimm history by Jack Zipes. Illustrated book of the year and 5 stars ;) ( Edited to add - This also makes reference to only my second "Trudy" that I have come across in literature. The first was in Ian McEwan's Nutshell and now I discover an evil witch namesake who turns a girl into a block of firewood ! )

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    What do you get when you put Shaun Tan's artistic bend and have him interpret Grimm's fairytales? A whole lot of fun! I was raised on the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perreault, so I absolutely enjoyed the darkness of the tales. Although I do have to say that the Rapunzel representation, looked like a phallus with golden hair. Other than it was a great read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    This book is STUNNING which is exactly what I would expect from Shaun Tan, author of The Arrival, one of my all-time favourite ever graphic novels. This is more of an art book than an actual story, but it's so whimsical and creepy in all the right ways and it ties very strongly to The Grimm Fairy Tales. What Tan has attempted within the pages of this book is to condense each of the Grimm tales down to its rawest and most primitive form. Using sculpture as a medium and various materials he has This book is STUNNING which is exactly what I would expect from Shaun Tan, author of The Arrival, one of my all-time favourite ever graphic novels. This is more of an art book than an actual story, but it's so whimsical and creepy in all the right ways and it ties very strongly to The Grimm Fairy Tales. What Tan has attempted within the pages of this book is to condense each of the Grimm tales down to its rawest and most primitive form. Using sculpture as a medium and various materials he has managed to create some visceral, raw and honest pieces which real give a sense of every tale, whether you know them already of not. I adored this, I read it in one evening, and I know it's one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I would say this is totally age-appropriate for kids and adults, and it's hauntingly beautiful besides. I'd strongly recommend picking it up asap :) 4.5*s overall!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    If this image is intriguing to you, you need to read this. The Singing Bones is a book of art inspired by fairy tales. Some are literal interpretations. Some are eerie, yet convey the vibe of the story. But all are interesting and beautiful. I knew some of the stories, but a few were unknown to me. I especially loved the choices Shaun Tan made of quotes. I especially loved the the Juniper Tree (31), Bearskin (46), One Eye Two Eyes Three Eyes (56). The art was always interesting, but of course I If this image is intriguing to you, you need to read this. The Singing Bones is a book of art inspired by fairy tales. Some are literal interpretations. Some are eerie, yet convey the vibe of the story. But all are interesting and beautiful. I knew some of the stories, but a few were unknown to me. I especially loved the choices Shaun Tan made of quotes. I especially loved the the Juniper Tree (31), Bearskin (46), One Eye Two Eyes Three Eyes (56). The art was always interesting, but of course I had plenty of favorites. My favorite art pieces were for Briar Rose (32), All Fur (40), Bearskin (46), the Little Shroud (50) and the Stolen Pennies (51), Fitcher's Bird (64), the Nixie in the Pond (68), the Moon (74). Anyway, if you're into art, you definitely should pick this up. It's a brief read, taking me only about an hour, but it's absolutely worth it. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    INCREDIBLE! So, I took my time reading this book but I'm really glad that I did. I rationed myself on a couple of tales a day to ensure that I fully took in the beauty of each one, and I can honestly say that I have been richly rewarded. Not only is The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan a fully compelling and engaging read, but his accompanying artwork is mind-blowing! Some of my favourite sculptures include Hansel and Gretel, The White Snake, The Fisherman and His Wife, Foundling, Mother Trudy, All INCREDIBLE! So, I took my time reading this book but I'm really glad that I did. I rationed myself on a couple of tales a day to ensure that I fully took in the beauty of each one, and I can honestly say that I have been richly rewarded. Not only is The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan a fully compelling and engaging read, but his accompanying artwork is mind-blowing! Some of my favourite sculptures include Hansel and Gretel, The White Snake, The Fisherman and His Wife, Foundling, Mother Trudy, All Fur, The Little Shroud, Mother Holle, Simelei Mountain, Fitcher's Bird, The Blacksmith and the Devil, The Moon and Thumbling. Tan takes a small section from each of the Grimm's fairy tales (these sections often focus on wickedness, greed, corruption and death) and creates a sculpture based on it. The Singing Bones is a truly unique masterpiece and it shall take pride of place on my bookcase. I can't wait to share it with everyone I know!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily Mead

    This book is absolutely STUNNING. The sculptures that Shaun Tan's created, alongside the stories they come from, are so strange and wonderful, and they match perfectly. Full review to come!! _________________________________________ If you like a) illustrations, b) fairytales and c) sculptures, this is definitely the book for you. Shaun Tan is a bloody legend, basically. I requested this one from Allen and Unwin, and the absolutely GORGEOUS book turned up in my mail. I almost screamed, people, it This book is absolutely STUNNING. The sculptures that Shaun Tan's created, alongside the stories they come from, are so strange and wonderful, and they match perfectly. Full review to come!! _________________________________________ If you like a) illustrations, b) fairytales and c) sculptures, this is definitely the book for you. Shaun Tan is a bloody legend, basically. I requested this one from Allen and Unwin, and the absolutely GORGEOUS book turned up in my mail. I almost screamed, people, it was that good. And I haven’t done a list review in a while, so let’s go with one of those. 1. THE ILLUSTRATIONS They are actually illustrations OF sculptures, but the way they’ve been photographed make them absolutely stunning. There are colourful illustrations and darker ones, but they all have such character. If you’ve read any of Shaun Tan’s other picture books, you’ll recognise his very UNIQUE style. (It’s absolutely creeptastic) 2. GRIMM’S FAIRYTALES I think the best part about The Singing Bones is that, sure, it’s got all your regular boring fairytales, but it’s also got different ones that only the most HARD-CORE Grimm’s fairytale lovers would know of. For example: Mother Holle Simelei Mountain (in the picture above) Godfather Death The Boy Who Left Home To Find Out About Fear PLUS it’s got a foreword by Philip Pullman, aka author of The Northern Lights, aka one of my favourite authors on EARTH. So it takes the Grimm’s fairytales, puts an an even creepier spin on them, and makes strange and wonderful sculptures out of them. I was absolutely captivated by Shaun Tan’s interpretation of these fairytales. On the other page of each of the sculptures are small excerpts from the stories themselves. Only a few sentences, usually, but they contribute to the incredible, magical atmosphere of the book. At the end there’s a glossary with small summaries of each of the stories, which I’m sure I’ll find really useful when I write retellings myself! 3. SCULPTURES Honestly, sometimes I wish instead of being a writer I was an artist, because oh my GOODNESS are these sculptures beautiful. They’re so intricate and detailed and you can tell that every single one required immense planning and thought. Shaun Tan is an artistic and storytelling genius. Because, you know, pictures do tell a thousand words, and anyone who turns their nose up at picture books is clearly a sad human being. This is one book that I’ll probably read over again just because I think there’s SO much more to get out of it that I wouldn’t have picked up the first time. Definitely a book to treasure. *strokes it*

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Powerful and Amazing!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Leitschuh

    Part fairy tale collection. Part art exhibit. Altogether a beautiful and haunting work.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This book is a collection of photographs of small sculptures inspired by tales from the Brothers Grimm. Shaun Tan shows that he is as wonderful an artist in this medium as he is an illustrator. I was enchanted by the art work, but frustrated because I realized I am not familiar with the vast majority of the Grimm tales -- each facing page includes an excerpt from the referenced tale, but not enough to give you the whole story, so I felt I lacked the key to appreciate the book fully.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Did you see how many tags I just clicked to try to categorize this strangely beautiful book? Each photograph of each sculpture created by Shaun Tan is a visual poem, and paired with an incredible spare pared-down snippet of one trippy Grimm's tale the words and art combine to make something that feels both incomplete and yet also clearly fully unto itself. I've had varying enjoyment of works of Neil Gaiman, but, man, can he write an introduction. I also loved Jack Zipes speedy but thorough and Did you see how many tags I just clicked to try to categorize this strangely beautiful book? Each photograph of each sculpture created by Shaun Tan is a visual poem, and paired with an incredible spare pared-down snippet of one trippy Grimm's tale the words and art combine to make something that feels both incomplete and yet also clearly fully unto itself. I've had varying enjoyment of works of Neil Gaiman, but, man, can he write an introduction. I also loved Jack Zipes speedy but thorough and super fascinating history of the Grimm brothers....who were librarians by the way!! I found this book in the library classified as a teen graphic novel - but honestly, I don't know where it belongs. Maybe just by itself, or on a shelf with other unclassifiable oddities.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    A foreword by Neil Gaiman, a history of the Grimm brothers (who were librarians to boot!), a series of creations by Shaun Tan of The Arrival fame with an excerpt from the real Grimm's tales, and a closing chapter about the tales. Um, OBSESSED. They are rich, dark, creepy, magical, puzzling, and more. It immediately went into the hands of my Horror Fiction and Film teacher who is a Gaiman fan and clearly has a horse in this race. I can't wait to hear what he thinks tomorrow. As for me, the images A foreword by Neil Gaiman, a history of the Grimm brothers (who were librarians to boot!), a series of creations by Shaun Tan of The Arrival fame with an excerpt from the real Grimm's tales, and a closing chapter about the tales. Um, OBSESSED. They are rich, dark, creepy, magical, puzzling, and more. It immediately went into the hands of my Horror Fiction and Film teacher who is a Gaiman fan and clearly has a horse in this race. I can't wait to hear what he thinks tomorrow. As for me, the images are arresting and beautiful, painful and sweet. It makes you year to read the originals and pay homage to these two men who worked tirelessly to preserve their German heritage. Super love.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karly

    It's not often that an artist can bring a new and completely fresh vibe to fairytales, but Shaun Tan has achieved it wonderfully. This is a collection of sculptures that reimagine and represent the Grimm's fairytales so well that you find it hard to believe there was ever any other way. Absolutely stunning.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Arielle Walker

    Well this is a thing of pure beauty.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Earp

    Amazing! Absolutely inspired interpretations of fairy tales in sculpture form. More detailed review to come (hopefully).

  21. 4 out of 5

    MB (What she read)

    These are really beautiful pieces of art. Their seeming simplicity is evocative and very complementary towards the Grimm tales they depict.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Agnė

    As an art book, The Singing Bones is simply incredible. Tan's sculptures are mystical, imaginative, evocative, primal... in other words, they capture the spirit of the original Grimms' fairy tales perfectly: HANSEL AND GRETEL LITTLE RED CAP RAPUNZEL CINDERELLA SNOW WHITE If you are interested, check out Tan's process in creating one of the sculptures for this book. However, I should warn you that The Singing Bones does not really lend itself to be read from cover to cover and is best enjoyed at a pace As an art book, The Singing Bones is simply incredible. Tan's sculptures are mystical, imaginative, evocative, primal... in other words, they capture the spirit of the original Grimms' fairy tales perfectly: HANSEL AND GRETEL LITTLE RED CAP RAPUNZEL CINDERELLA SNOW WHITE If you are interested, check out Tan's process in creating one of the sculptures for this book. However, I should warn you that The Singing Bones does not really lend itself to be read from cover to cover and is best enjoyed at a pace of a few pages per day. What is more, if you are not familiar with most of the fairy tales in this book (I wasn't), you will have to constantly refer to the brief summaries of these tales at the back of the book, because to really understand and appreciate the cleverness of the sculptures, you HAVE to know the tales they are based on. You see, the problem is that although each of the 75 Tan's sculpture photographs are accompanied by a title and a paragraph from a certain Grimms' fairy tale that inspired the sculpture, the provided paragraphs sometimes are kind of useless if you do not know the tale because they are not always directly related to the scene depicted by the sculpture.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    First sentence: There are stories, honed by the retelling, simplified by the people who recorded them and transmitted them, old stories, with the edges rubbed off them, like the pebbles on a beach, each story the perfect size and heft to send skimming over the water, or to use to strike an enemy. Folktalkes are like jokes: If they had a beginning, it is lost to us. Premise/plot: The Singing Bones is a collection of photographs and one-page 'retellings' of Grimm fairy tales or folk tales. The First sentence: There are stories, honed by the retelling, simplified by the people who recorded them and transmitted them, old stories, with the edges rubbed off them, like the pebbles on a beach, each story the perfect size and heft to send skimming over the water, or to use to strike an enemy. Folktalkes are like jokes: If they had a beginning, it is lost to us. Premise/plot: The Singing Bones is a collection of photographs and one-page 'retellings' of Grimm fairy tales or folk tales. The photographs are of sculptures made by Shaun Tan. Gaiman, who wrote the introduction, probably says it better than I ever could: "They [the sculptures] feel primal, as if they were made in a long-ago age of the world, when the stories were first being shaped, and that perhaps the sculptures came first." There are dozens of photographs. They do take center stage in this book. The words being almost like a brief but necessary interruption. The text does not summarize the fairy tale. The text is definitely on the literary side. The reader has to work to make connections and "see" the bigger story that both photograph and text tell. My thoughts: I didn't actually love this one personally. But. Just because I don't love, love, love something doesn't mean that I don't recognize ART when I see it. This is a weighty 'literary' book that is definitely interesting and quirky. I think those who love it will really LOVE it. This quote by Neil Gaiman was fabulous: People need stories. It's one of the things that make us who we are. We crave stories, because they make us more than ourselves, they give us escape and they give us knowledge. They entertain us and they change us, as they have changed and entertained us for thousands of years.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Healy

    I have always loved Shaun Tan's art, and have been greedily scouring the internet for images of this series of sculptures he did for maybe a year now? I was so very excited for this book to be released, and it was even better than I imagined it would be. I've just typed and deleted several different efforts to describe how it feels to look at the sculptures in this book, but I just can't convey it. In the foreword, Neil Gaiman says that Shaun Tan's sculptures "do not look like the moments of the I have always loved Shaun Tan's art, and have been greedily scouring the internet for images of this series of sculptures he did for maybe a year now? I was so very excited for this book to be released, and it was even better than I imagined it would be. I've just typed and deleted several different efforts to describe how it feels to look at the sculptures in this book, but I just can't convey it. In the foreword, Neil Gaiman says that Shaun Tan's sculptures "do not look like the moments of the stories: instead, they feel like the stories themselves" and this is accurate. He also talks about how tactile they are. This is also accurate. But it's more than that. It's like you can see movement, despite the fact that the photographs are still. It's like you can hear them if you concentrate enough, echoes of wails and howls and wind. It's like you can smell them, and they smell like an open fire on a cold night, and like petals slowly rotting, and like a crisp apple. It feels like MAGIC.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    I'm a fan of Shaun Tan and his work, so was delighted to get my hands on this one, and it does not disappoint. The thing to know going in is that it is not a typical book that you read. Like many of us, the author is fascinated by fairy tales, and he created little sculptures that capture the essence of 75 of the Brothers Grimm stories. I had not heard of many of these fairy tales, so it was lovely to have a little synopsis of each story at the end of the book. The format of the book is as I'm a fan of Shaun Tan and his work, so was delighted to get my hands on this one, and it does not disappoint. The thing to know going in is that it is not a typical book that you read. Like many of us, the author is fascinated by fairy tales, and he created little sculptures that capture the essence of 75 of the Brothers Grimm stories. I had not heard of many of these fairy tales, so it was lovely to have a little synopsis of each story at the end of the book. The format of the book is as follows, each two page spread has the name of the story, and a little blurb from it on the left, and a beautifully composed photograph of a little sculpture that interprets the text on the right. It's the imagination that created these little sculptures that will take your breath away. I would highly recommend this one to fans of fairy tales, art, and Shaun Tan. This book is like holding a wonderfully curated gallery of art in your hands.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stacia

    This book is like a museum production. Heavy, glossy pages. Gorgeous, minimalist sculptures inspired by Inuit & pre-Columbian artwork. And Grimm fairy tales edited to their barest words -- really just a few lines. Each story has a single, facing-page layout: the story stripped down to its most basic form facing one artwork that depicts the essence of the story. Seventy-five stories total. A stunning piece.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maija

    10 favourite sculptures (it was hard to choose!): The Frog King Faithful Johannes The White Snake The Boots of Buffalo Leather The Singing Bone Lucky Hans Snow White All Fur The Nixie in the Pond The Master Thief 4.5 stars

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    In his inspired and unique take on the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, Shaun Tan presents seventy-five of their stories, each with an accompanying sculpture. He has photographed each of these interpretations beautifully, with light and shadow coming into play almost as much as the objects themselves. The Singing Bones includes an introduction by fantasy aficionado Neil Gaiman, and an insightful essay by Jack Zipes, entitled 'How the Brothers Grimm Made Their Way in the World'. Tan himself adds In his inspired and unique take on the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, Shaun Tan presents seventy-five of their stories, each with an accompanying sculpture. He has photographed each of these interpretations beautifully, with light and shadow coming into play almost as much as the objects themselves. The Singing Bones includes an introduction by fantasy aficionado Neil Gaiman, and an insightful essay by Jack Zipes, entitled 'How the Brothers Grimm Made Their Way in the World'. Tan himself adds an afterword, which, despite its brevity, demonstrates his passion for his interpretation. He has chosen to take extracts from Zipes' 1987 translation of the Grimm tales; his text feels fresh and modern, whilst still getting across the horror of many of the stories. Tan has focused upon both well-known tales - for instance, 'Cinderella', 'Hansel and Gretel', and 'Snow White' - as well as the more unusual. Tan's accompanying sculptures are beguiling and strange; some of them are even creepy. Despite their differences, there is a marvellous coherence at play here; details have been followed from one sculpture to another, from the set of the eyes of particular characters, to their absence in others. He has a style all his own. Of his work, Gaiman says: 'His sculptures suggest; thy do not describe. They imply; they do not delineate. They are, in themselves, stories - not the frozen moments in time that a classical illustration needs to be. These are something new, something deeper. They do not look like moments of the stories: instead, they feel like the stories themselves.' In his introduction, Gaiman writes: 'People read stories. It's one of the things that makes us who we are. We crave stories because they make us more than ourselves, they give us escape and they give us knowledge. They entertain us and they change us, as they have changed and entertained us for thousands of years.' This sums up Tan's achievement perfectly; he has worked with a slew of stories which we are all familiar with, but has managed to make them entirely his own. The way in which Tan has managed so seamlessly to translate his distinctive style from illustrations and graphic novels into the three-dimensional form shows that he is an incredibly talented and versatile artist. The Singing Bones is a marvellous choice for all fans of fairytales, or for those who want to see how the same story can be so differently presented.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Monhollen

    The artwork in this was so beautiful. Shaun Tan's interpretations of the famous Grimm tales is deeply captivating. It was hard to put this down as I looked forward to seeing the next piece of morbid/dark/meaning figurine on the next page. If you like the Grimm brothers or grew up on classic fairy tales you should definitely read this. -A

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    This is, for lack of a better phrase, very cool. Shaun Tan's sculptures are simple and dark, yet cause complex reactions and emotions in connection with excerpts from the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales. Many of the stories I am unfamiliar with, but that didn't take away the intensity of the moments taken from each one. I don't know how else to describe a book that is essentially art-inspired-by-stories. So, again...very cool.

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