A masterly visual storyteller. These words are part of the quotation of the ALMA jury for the 2011 laureate, author and illustrator Shaun Tan. His book Rules of Summer (Hachette, 2013) will be published shortly, but there´s yet another reason to put Shaun Tan in the limelight today, and that’s the release of a book written by another ALMA laureate, Philip Pullman (who received the award in 2005). In Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm (Penguin Books, 2012), Pullman retells his fifty favorites, paying homage to the tales that inspired his unique creative vision—and that continue to cast their spell on the Western imagination.
The German edition of the book has recently been published by Aladin Verlag, and contains (as the only edition) illustrations made by no other than… Shaun Tan. Shaun Tan is known for his use of a variety of artistic expressions and to see every book as an experiment in visual and verbal storytelling. In this case, Shaun used small sculptures to illustrate the stories:
As a child, I was actually more obsessed with sculpture than painting and drawing, working with clay, papier mache and soapstone, and was reminded of this when browsing through my collection of books on folk art and particularly Inuit scultpure and Pre-Columbian figurines from Mexico. Many of these small, hand-sized sculptures are strongly narrative and dreamlike, and offered a ‘way in’ to thinking about Grimm’s stories as part of an old creative tradition. The works I ended up creating hopefully convey the spirit of each tale without actually illustrating them, like anonymous artifacts in a museum open to all kinds of interpretation.