Tan's THE SINGING BONES Seduces Readers with Compelling Imagery and Stories

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Shaun Tan has simultaneously mesmerized and confounded readers with his surreal fables like TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA and THE ARRIVAL. His use of imagery and text -- and sometimes complete absence of text -- deliver artistic works of bizarre elegance.

Thus it is with THE SINGING BONES, a collection of snippets from the Grimm Fairy Tales juxtaposed with photos of sculpture created and photographed by Tan. With every turn of the page, readers are treated to a compelling passage of a fairy tale -- hardly ever the whole story but enough of it to feel as though you've experienced something important -- placed in parallel with an illustrative photograph that supports the passage in a way that is perfectly grotesque and stunningly beautiful.

THE SINGING BONES contains two introductions -- one by Jack Zipes on the Brothers Grimm and their tales, and one by master storyteller Neil Gaiman on the elusive and futile attempts to illustrate fairy tale and how Tan, through the use of his abstracts, has overcome that particular barrier so creatively.

Tan himself ends the book talking about his folk art inspirations and materials used for the sculptures, and the book concludes with an index of the fairy tales alluded to throughout the book, with a condensed summary of each.

On the whole, THE SINGING BONES has a seductive gravity, pulling in even the most casual browser in such a way that several stories will have found a new home in their heads before they realize it has happened.

5.0 / 5.0