Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)
The Skull by Jon Klassen
Add The Skull to bookshelf
Add to Bookshelf

The Skull

Best Seller
The Skull by Jon Klassen
Hardcover $19.99
Jul 11, 2023 | ISBN 9781536223361

Buy from Other Retailers:

  • $19.99

    Jul 11, 2023 | ISBN 9781536223361 | 6-9 years

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Product Details


Folk tales are meant to be flexible things, open-source stories infinitely moldable to the needs of teller and era. That’s the wonder of them — and of “The Skull,” an old Tyrolean yarn distilled to its droll essentials and marvelously reimagined by the Caldecott medalist (and national treasure) Jon Klassen. . . The pared-back, ocher-tinted illustrations are well suited to the folk-tale form, and pair perfectly with Klassen’s deceptively simple storytelling.
—The New York Times Book Review

Caldecott medalist Klassen’s signature style is brought to bear on a Tyrolean tale imbued with equal parts comfort and creepiness. . . . One can only hope that children will tell and retell this reinterpretation many times to themselves throughout the years. Employing his customary pitch-perfect tonal gymnastics, only Klassen could inspire readers to want craniums as pals.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Echoes of other forbidding fairy tales pervade this high-stakes telling, in which Otilla’s primal bravery and sly wit result in an arc from flight to mutual reliance.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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)

Klassen has proved especially good at introducing new, often solo, young readers to the unsettling but intriguing place where fear becomes an essential narrative element, offering enough humor and absurdity to provide comfort on the journey. Such is the case with The Skull, a reimagining of a Tyrolean folktale that shows a young girl’s resolve against unnamed, unexplained threats. . . . the book offers a lesson on the usefulness of fear and likely a reminder of what kids already suspect: the world can be awful and scary, but empathy and friendship can arise from its darkest places.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

Unflappable Otilla and the unfailingly polite skull make for odd but exemplary companions in this well-paced tale. . . . illustrated in classic, deadpan Klassen style with speckled art that’s both mesmerizing and dryly hilarious. The dark tones of the art are warmed by slants of peach-hued winter sunlight; like the scary-funny story, darkness and light work in tandem ­surprisingly well.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

Author/illustrator Jon Klassen takes an especially dark turn in an unconventional folk tale for hardy early readers, The Skull, a morbid yet profoundly affectionate chapter book about a girl and her bony companion. . . .The gripping art melds brilliantly with emotionally hefty text to strike an overwhelmingly eerie and foreboding tone, which plays in exquisite contrast to the blooming solidarity between Otilla and the skull. . . . Make no bones about it, this is a wholly distinctive and delightfully unsettling creation.
—Shelf Awareness (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

[A] droll and delicious tale. . . Any disquiet that children ages 6-10 might harbor about a talking skull will dissipate in the light of the skull’s friendly attitude and gracious manners.
—The Wall Street Journal

Gifted author-illustrator Jon Klassen offers a wonderfully eerie version of an old folktale, illustrated with his distinctive somber graphite and ink artwork in black and white and muted tones of sepia, rose and blue and printed in large type with short chapters that should appeal to beginning readers.
—The Buffalo News

Jon Klassen brings his droll humor and just the right amount of spine-tingling creepiness to this retelling of a Tyrolean folktale. . . . Klassen uses his spare text to great effect and the mostly monochromatic illustrations provide just the right eerie echo. This is a book sure to be read over and over and over again. Even the most reluctant reader will be eager to keep these pages turning.
—The New York Journal of Books

This delightfully dark picture book retells a Tyrolean folk tale of the same name. . . . This is a longer-than-average picture book — much like Klassen’s previous picture book The Rock from the Sky — with Klassen’s trademark dark humor. . . . Fairy tale and horror readers of all ages will love it.
—Book Riot


Audie Awards WINNER 2024

Children’s Book Council – Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards WINNER 2024

ALSC Notable Children’s Books SELECTION 2024

Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year SELECTION 2024

Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book SELECTION 2023

Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books SELECTION 2023

Horn Book Fanfare SELECTION 2023

Junior Library Guild Selection SELECTION 2023

Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year SELECTION 2023

New York Public Library Best Books for Kids SELECTION 2023

New York Times Best Book of the Year SELECTION 2023

Shelf Awareness – Best Children’s & Teen Books of the Year SELECTION 2023

Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature FINALIST 2023

Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Back to Top