'What Really Happened to Humpty Dumpty'
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[October 14, 2009]
"What Really Happened to
Humpty Dumpty?: (From the Files of a Hard-Boiled Detective)," by Joe Dumpty, as
told to Jeanie Franz Ransom, illustrated by Stephen Axelsen, ages 5 and up
From the title page to the endpapers, "What Really Happened to Humpty
Dumpty? which is based on the Mother Goose rhyme, is a barrel of laughs. All
the familiar nursery rhyme characters make an appearance: Little Miss Muffet,
the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe, Jack and Jill, the Muffin Man, the Big
Bad Wolf, and others.
Detective Joe Dumpty, Humpty's younger brother, tells the story. You see,
this slim novel is the mystery behind the rhyme: Why did Humpty Dumpty fall
off the wall?
Joe suspects Humpty was pushed while on Neighborhood
Watch duty. Mother Goose, the chief of police, wants to rule the fall an
accident because she is busy investigating another problem. However, things
are just not adding up that way for Joe.
Little Miss Muffet was a witness. Spider believes it's his fault, and his
questioning of the neighborhood brings a complex twist of accounts. As Joe
follows the leads through Mother Gooseland, readers pick up clues to the
mystery of who was behind the "accident." Can Joe solve the crime and bring
the culprit to justice?
There are very few mysteries written so well for younger readers. This
"Who done it?" would be a perfect introduction to the mystery genre.
Although a picture book in format, the text is too sophisticated for most
preschool readers. A complete background in nursery rhymes and beginning
folklore is necessary to understand most of the jokes.
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The illustrations alone will tickle many funny bones. I
particularly find the illustrations of Chicken Little's underground
bunker house hilarious, as well as the tiny postage stamp-sized
picture of the spider with multiple binoculars.
Stephen Axelsen's cartoonlike illustrations fit perfectly with
Ransom's text. Readers will delight in recognizing the nursery
rhyme, folk tale and fairy tale sprinkled on each page. Older
readers will laugh at the puns and jokes these characters supply.
There is just too much to see and experience to read the book just
once! Readers will want to read and reread this hilarious romp
through the land of our childhood. Don't be too surprised if the
adults in the house take their turns at laughing through the story.
Will Joe be involved in solving any more cases? Well, on the last
page he hints at Bo Peep's missing sheep and the report that the
Dish ran away with the Spoon. We can only hope this duo will have
more tales as funny as this one. Until then, check out some other
stories in our mystery section at the Lincoln Public Library, 725
[Text from file received from
Lincoln Public Library District]
(Ms. Lou's blog: