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The Skull

The Skull 1

A Tyrolean Folktale

by Jon Klassen and Jon Klassen
Publication Date: 11/07/2023
4/5 Rating 1 Review

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RRP  $32.99

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Caldecott Medalist and #1 New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Jon Klassen delivers a deliciously macabre treat for folktale fans.

In a big abandoned house, on a barren hill, lives a skull. A brave girl named Otilla has escaped from terrible danger and run away, and when she finds herself lost in the dark forest, the lonely house beckons. Her host, the skull, is afraid of something too, something that comes every night. Can brave Otilla save them both? Steeped in shadows and threaded with subtle wit – with rich, monochromatic artwork and an illuminating author’s note – The Skull is as empowering as it is mysterious and foreboding.

Classic fiction (Children's / Teenage)
Publication Date:
Walker Books Ltd
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):

Klassen’s recognizable graphite-and-ink illustrations capture the haunting—yet somehow charming—atmosphere of the stark Austrian setting, where shadows loom, bones come to life, and apricot sunshine cuts through the gloom. . . . Is the story creepy? You bet, but it’s also weirdly sweet and characterized by agency, kindness, and choice. . . . Klassen’s newest offering will be highly coveted.
Booklist (starred review)

Readers can enjoy a quick read, the implementation of interesting literary elements, and the humor that we have come to know from Klassen.
School Library Connection

Jon Klassen

Jon Klassen is the author-illustrator of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, the only book to ever win both the Kate Greenaway and Caldecott Medal.

He also illustrated Extra Yarn and the Caldecott Honor book Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, both written by Mac Barnett, as well as Ted Kooser's House Held Up By Trees. Before making picture books, he served as an illustrator on the animated feature film, Coraline.

Originally from Niagara Falls, Canada, Jon now lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife.

Jon Klassen

Jon Klassen is a Canadian-born author/illustrator of picture books. He started his career in animation, working as an illustrator and designer for feature films at Dreamworks and Laika Studios, and smaller projects like commercials and music videos, with clients including the BBC and U2, before moving his focus to book work.

His own books include I Want My Hat Back, This is Not My Hat, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and We Found A Hat. His illustrated books include Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig A Hole both written by Mac Barnett and winners of Caldecott Honors.

He is a member of the Order of Canada for contributions to children's literature. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles with his wife Moranne and two sons, Isaac and August.

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Based on 1 review

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1 Review

When Otilla runs away, she travels through a dense forest before coming across a house that looks abandoned. When she knocks on the door, Otilla discovers the house is inhabited after all.

“Otilla looked up to where the voice had come from. In a window above the door, she saw a skull looking at her.”

By a skull that is haunted by a secret.

I’m not quite sure how Otilla managed to get the fire hot enough for one of its purposes. I want to know why Otilla ran away and need to invent more of a backstory for the skull because my macabre-o-meter needs more juice.

This is a beautiful book. A retelling of a Tyrolean folktale, it’s such an odd little story and I have no idea yet if I will fall in love with it during a reread or if the question marks are going to remain above my head.

What I’m absolutely certain of is that I loved the dance and the masks. I adored the quirky illustrations. I really enjoyed the author’s note, where they explain how this retelling came about.

Thank you so much to Walker Books for the opportunity to read this book. I’m rounding up from 3.5 stars.

Contains Spoilers No
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