The Skull by Jon Klassen – Book Review

The Skull by Jon Klassen – Book Review

The Skull Jon Klassen

The Skull
A Tyrolean Folktale

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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.

Review by Stacey

The Skull is based on A Tyrolean Folktale of the same name that has been reimagined by author Jon Klassen.

The story begins with a young girl running through the woods, she is running away from something or someone and she comes across an old house where she seeks shelter. In the window of the house is a skull. The skull speaks to her and offers to let her in as long as she carries him around.

The book is divided into three parts and although it is 112 pages long it is a very quick read as there’s not a vast amount of text. The tale is about what the skull and the little girl get up to in the house, including her helping the skull get rid of a problem.

It is a very strange story and it has an eerie feel to it, especially helped by the dark and mysterious illustrations that fill the pages.

The ending wasn’t great and I do prefer the original story ending – It is told in the author’s notes at the end. However, this is author Jon Klassen and his work is always a little unusual and weird so actually the ending worked for his style of writing.

Overall, The Skull is a quick read. It is a bit ghostly and spooky and will be perfect for those who love unconventionally children’s books. It is also quite a lovely tale of friendship and opening your heart to others.

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Jon Klassen


Jon Klassen is a Canadian-born author/illustrator. He has written and illustrated three picture books of his own and illustrated many other author’s texts.

His own books are called I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat and We Found A Hat. Highlights of his illustrated books are Sam & Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett, The Dark by Lemony Snicket, and his latest is The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse also by Mac Barnett. His books have won a Caldecott medal and two Caldecott honors and other international awards.

He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and son.

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