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The Musicians of Bremen - a beautifully illustrated version

Updated on August 30, 2017

Adapted and Illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat

The Musicians of Bremen is one of those fairly well known and classic fables from the Brothers Grimm, here retold and wonderfully illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat. If you know the story, then I must emphasise the beauty of the art. If you do not know the story, well, let me assure you it has stood the test of time and is a staple of many childrens' childhoods.

Those of you who have read my review of The Night Before Christmas: A Magical Cut-Paper Edition already know my very high opinion of Niroot's artwork. For the rest of you, let me simply say that it is some of the most beautiful, painstaking, art I have ever seen, that each illustration captures perfectly the nuances of defeat, joy, circumstance and other quirks of character.

I have watched Niroot's art on deviantART since I discovered it, and now consider the artist a dear friend. And so it is with great pleasure that I write this review.

The Musicians of Bremen - Retold and illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat

This story by the Brothers Grimm (originally) tells the tale of four animals who get too old to work - or are otherwise discarded - and set off together to seek their fortune in Bremen.

You can also order it from The Book Depository with FREE SHIPPING!

The Musicians of Bremen
The Musicians of Bremen

This carefully worded retelling of the popular Grimm brothers' tale is also a lovely blend of text and illustration. Holding closely to the original, Puttapipat uses the conceit of the donkey, at the request of his three companions, relating the story of their grand adventure as an evening's entertainment. Nicely composed and finely detailed ink-and-watercolor illustrations cover a large part of each spread, leaving creamy spaces against which the text is set. The first and last paintings, outlined by white borders, help to carry out the framing device. On some pages, a soft, fine-lined black-ink vignette sits beside the larger colored composition, adding further pictorial detail from the text. The animals are realistically painted, with personality in their facial expressions. Chests out, heads held high, they have clearly bolstered their self-esteem by banding together. An author's note explains why the human characters are dressed in 17th-century garb. This beautifully executed folktale would be a great addition to any collection


Some of the most beautiful and delicate art I have ever seen.

The Opening Illustration

Musicians of Bremen, Opening by Himmapaan
Musicians of Bremen, Opening by Himmapaan

Opening illustration for Niroot Puttapipat's retelling of The Musicians of Bremen by The brothers Grimm. Published by Walker Books, 2004.

Pen & ink and watercolour, 2003.

This was Niroot's first illustrated book.

To quote the artist:

"Observant viewers will notice that the gourd in the upper left corner is a nod towards Durer's engraving of St Jerome."

In this painting, the donkey is beginning his tail - oops, I mean, tale, for the benefit of his audience.

The Rooster - One of my favourite illustrations!

Musicians of Bremen: Rooster
Musicians of Bremen: Rooster

Pen & ink and watercolour; pencil vignette, 2003.

Scanned from a proof of the book spread itself. The original now belongs in the collection of the art director who helped work on the book.

'"Oh, dear" said Donkey, "what can be so wrong?"

"What's wrong?!" wailed the rooster. "Only that the mistress of the house is preparing to wring my neck for Sunday lunch, despite my prediction of fine weather for Our Lady's Day today! So now I'm making all the noise I can while I'm still alive!""

Nightfall - They arrive at the robber's cottage

Musicians of Bremen: Nightfall by Himmapaan
Musicians of Bremen: Nightfall by Himmapaan

Pen & ink and watercolour; pencil vignette, 2003. And just look at the cat and the rooster up in the tree!

By nightfall they had arrived at a forest. Dog and Donkey settled down under a tree while Cat and Rooster took to the branches. From his perch at the top, Rooster could see a light from a distant house - this would certainly be a more welcome place of rest. They went towards it and found it to be a little cottage. Donkey peered in through a window and saw what appeared to be a band of robbers.

The Robbers - Our first look at the ostensible villains of the piece.

Musicians of Bremen: Robbers by Himmapaan
Musicians of Bremen: Robbers by Himmapaan

Pen & ink and watercolour, 2003.

And here we see some delicious-looking food, and an assortment of unique and unsavoury characters! And the poor animals, they must be looking in so hungrily...and what's that? TREASURE?

What did you think of the Musicians of Bremen? - Write a review, add a comment, or debate someone who disagrees with you.

What did you think of the art and the story?

The Final Illustration - Enjoying their victory!

Musicians of Bremen: Closing by Himmapaan
Musicians of Bremen: Closing by Himmapaan

Pen & ink and watercolour, 2003.

And here at the end we see the four creatures, Dog, Cat, Rooster and Donkey, singing and screeching happily away from their (very delicately illustrated) songbooks!

Before long they came across a rooster perched on a farmyard gate. He looked utterly furious and was crowing for all he was worth.

The Cover Illustration

The Cover Illustration
The Cover Illustration

More books by Grimm - Vote for your favorites, or add any I missed.

The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1)
The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1)

In paperback for the first time, the Sisters Grimm take readers to a world where fairy tales are fact and not everyone is who they seem! In book one of this bestselling series, sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm. The sisters learn they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files. The girls are the latest in a long line of fairy-tale detectives, and their new hometown is filled with Everafters (as magical folks like to be called)some good and some very, very bad. When a mysterious Everafter sets a giant loose on the town, its up to the Sisters Grimm to save the day.

The Problem Child (The Sisters Grimm, Book 3)
The Problem Child (The Sisters Grimm, Book 3)

A mystery story with a monstrous twistIn book three of the series, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm tackle their most important mystery: Who kidnapped their parents more than a year ago? Sabrina enters the hideout of the Scarlet Hand, the sinister group of Everafters who are keeping her parents prisoner. She has a chance to rescue her mom and dad but is foiled by the most famous fairy-tale character in the world. With the help of her little sister (who might be tougher than Sabrina realizes) and a long-lost relative, Sabrina finds a powerful weapon for fighting her enemies, and discovers that magic has a high price.

The Unusual Suspects (The Sisters Grimm, Book 2) (Bk. 2)
The Unusual Suspects (The Sisters Grimm, Book 2) (Bk. 2)

In book two of the series, the Sisters Grimm start school at Ferryport Landing Elementary. Daphnes lucky enough to get Snow White for a teachershe loves little peoplebut poor Sabrinas stuck with Mr. Grumpner and a class of mildly psychotic sixth graders. When Mr. Grumpner is found hanging in a spiders web, it is up to the Grimms to find the Everafter who did it. If only Sabrina can get over her distrust of all fairy-tale folk. But how can she trust those who just might be responsible for the disappearance of her parents?

Once Upon a Crime (The Sisters Grimm, Book 4)
Once Upon a Crime (The Sisters Grimm, Book 4)

The Grimms take Manhattan in the fourth book in the New York Times bestselling series! When fairy-tale detectives Sabrina and Daphne Grimm venture back to the big city to help a friend, they land in the middle of a big mystery. Pucks father, King Oberon, has been murdered, and the Grimms suspect one of the many famous (and infamous) fairy-tale folk who call the city home. Can they find the culprit while coming to terms with their mothers secret life? And will Sabrina ever accept her familys destiny? Funny and fast-paced, this series puts a fresh spin on girl-detective stories and has won an everexpanding number of fans.

The Everafter War (The Sisters Grimm, Book 7) (Bk. 7)
The Everafter War (The Sisters Grimm, Book 7) (Bk. 7)

Picking up after the dramatic cliffhanger that ended Book Six, Sabrina and Daphnes prayers are finally answered when their parents awake from their sleeping spell. But their happy reunion is short-lived, as they are caught in the middle of a war between the Scarlet Hand and Prince Charmings Everafter army. As the family works to help the princes ragtag group of rebels and protect their friends, Sabrina comes face-to-face with the familys deadliest enemythe mysterious Masterwho reveals a secret so shocking it will rock the entire family to its core.

page from the Musicians of Bremen
page from the Musicians of Bremen

Musicians of Bremen: Tailpiece - Quills and books and scrolls...

Musicians of Bremen: Tailpiece by Himmapaan
Musicians of Bremen: Tailpiece by Himmapaan

A pencil drawing at the end of the book. The heart-shaped book is based on a real medieval music book, the Chansonnier Cordiforme of Jean de Montchenu.

Rate it, if you dare...

On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think?

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Postscript of utmost importance

If you buy any of the books recommended above, this page automatically makes a donation to the incredible nonprofit, Donors Choose, which helps provide classrooms and students in need with resources that our public schools often lack.

Did you like the art?

Reader Feedback - Leave me a comment!

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I wasn't familiar with this artist before, but these illustrations have definitely captured my interest. I was looking for a book such as this to stay at Gramma's house, and now I have found one! It will be a toss up as to who will enjoy it the most! I might have to buy more than one of his books!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      9 years ago from UK

      I did, these illustrations are stunning and I really enjoyed your presentation of this book.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      It's a gorgeous story and I haven't seen these stunning illustrations before.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      9 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Very interesting. I've not heard of Niroot Puttapipat before, but I'm positive my daughter and SIL have (both being illustrators themselves) and I am sending the link to this lens to them to read. What absolutely gorgeous artwork. I can see why you admire it.

    • Christene-S profile image


      9 years ago

      Really nice!

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • strayspay profile image


      9 years ago

      Wonderful Lens! I've always loved the Musicians of Bremen and Puttapipat's art enhances my love for the book even more. Five Stars!


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