When I say I am obsessed with The Skull by Jon Klassen, I am. Can we say cosy gothic?! Because it is.
This is a beautifully illustrated, dark and yet cosy, folktale about a girl who runs away and finds a mysterious abandoned mansion inhabited only by a skull. There is just such spooky whimsy on the pages, and it delivers the store in such a factual and endearing way. It’s retold from the original Tyrolean tale (I had to look this up, and it’s Austrian!) and I love how, at the end, the author talked about how this is how folktales should be passed down: each time they’re told and shared and spoken, they change a little. Stories truly do have a life of their own and every time we speak them, they grow that little bit more.
The story is perfect for younger readers with large, easy-to-read font. It’s also a quick read and not at all intimidating. On the spookier side? A little. I would’ve lapped this up as a kid too, because please yes talk to me about skeletons and abandoned mansions and bottomless holes in the ground under the house. And I found it equally enjoyable as an adult.
Jon Klassen’s art style is also absolutely incredible and I adore it. Macabre whimsy and soft tones; you just want to live in amongst the pages.
Do you need this book? Absolutely. It will live rent free in my head and I would like infinite books with this aesthetic. Gothic, cosy, and memorable.
Thank you to Walker Books Australia for the review copy!
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.
published July 7th, 2023