Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors.
As recorded by the Brothers Grimm, The Singing Bone is the story of a boy murdered by his brother, and the shepherd who finds one of the boy’s bones years later. The shepherd carves the bone into a flute which begins to sing of its own power. When the shepherd presents this magical flute to the king it sings the story of the boy’s murder, and the king orders that the boy’s brother be executed for his crime. The practice of fashioning flutes from bone is perhaps as old as music itself. The oldest musical instrument known to modern science is a roughly 40,000-year-old flute carved from a vulture’s wing bone, found . . . where else but in cave along the Swabian Alps of southern Germany. Echoes of the Grimms’ magical bone can be heard as far as Siouxsie and the Banshee’s Pointing Bone and in Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Known as “The Lonely Pokémon,” the orphaned Cubone wears the skull of its mother as a helmet and survives by using another of her bones as a club. It cries at night because the moon reminds it of its mother’s face, and the acoustics of its helmet transform its moans into a ghostly song.
Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi transforms this classic fairy tale with The Fluted Girl, a short story in which the title character’s bones have been surgically hollowed and holes in her body grafted with keys and mouthpieces. She and her twin sister are trained to play intricate music on the hollows of one another’s body, adding to the wealth and renown of the promotor who built and owns them.
This edition of Fairy-Tale Files is brought to you by staff reader Jarrett Eakins.