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.
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
Suffice to say the macabre humour that readers expect from Klassen prevails, creating a thought-provoking ending.
Jon Klassen has a vast, dedicated fan base amongst both staff and customers at Readings, and The Skull will only gain him more fans. This is a beautiful book, in muted, ghostly shades of grey with colour popping in every now and again to brighten the darkest of moments. This is suitable for a spookier kind of kid – one who won’t get too shaken up by a skeleton-chase scene – and is a perfect, misremembered folk tale for 8+.
An irresistible folk tale, the story has lots of elements which are familiar but take the readers along quite unexpected pathways. Klassen’s wry sense of humour comes to the fore with the detours he takes, keeping the readers on their toes. Otilla is a strong individual, firstly leaving a place she did not like, then hiding out in the wood, taking a skull for a benefactor. She deals with his secret tormentor with dispatch, finding a place to call home. The wonderful illustrations using very few colours, give an air of gloom and mystery. Minimalist in scope, the ink and water colours creates a grainy texture to his images, the lighter touches, Ottila’s night attire and the pear tree, reinforcing the gloom that surrounds them.