Margaret Robson Kett reviews 'The Singing Bones' by Shaun Tan

Margaret Robson Kett reviews 'The Singing Bones' by Shaun Tan

The Singing Bones

by Shaun Tan

Allen & Unwin, $35 hb, 192 pp, 9781760111038

In 2012, Shaun Tan was commissioned to make pictures for a German publisher's edition of fifty of the Brothers Grimms' fairy tales, retold by Philip (His Dark Materials) Pullman. Pullman's challenge is that the tales do not necessarily benefit from illustration – he dismisses most as 'art school exquisiteness'. Tan's response was to return to his boyhood medium: sculpture. Inspired by the tales, he made twenty-five additional works, each 'about the size and weight of an orange'.

These small works, fabulously photographed, have now been published by Allen & Unwin. Extracts from Jack Zipes's translation of Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales – none more than 200 words long – sit alongside full colour plates. (Full annotations of the stories are at the back of the book.)

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Margaret Robson Kett

Margaret Robson Kett

Margaret Robson Kett is a Melbourne writer and editor and recently founded Kettlestitch Press.