What REALLY Happened to Humpty?
Jeanie Franz Ransom, author
Jeanie Franz Ransom has written several books for children, including What Parents Do When You're Not Home (Peachtree), Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal: A Tale of Tattletales (Magination Press), and Grandma U (Peachtree). She lives with her family near St. Louis, Missouri.
Read more about Jeanie.
Stephen Axelsen, illustrator
Stephen Axelsen has illustrated numerous children's books, including Vikings Maze Book (Little Hare Books), and the Piccolo and Annabelle series (Oxford University Press), which he also wrote. He lives on the east coast of Australia
Read more about Stephen.
Humpty Dumpty's hard-boiled brother tackles the mystery of this infamous fall. In a big gold trench coat and matching fedora, private eye Joe Dumpty makes a bold assertion--"Humpty Dumpty was pushed"--and sets out to crack the case, supported by police Chief (Mother) Goose. His droll investigation covers a rogue's gallery of nursery-rhyme characters. Miss Muffet proves a tough cookie; Joe finds a key piece of evidence under her tuffet. Other suspects include Goldilocks (who's house-sitting for the Three Bears and answers the door in pajamas and bedhead), a Zoot-suited Wolf, a skittish Chicken Little and the bickering Three Little Pigs. Ransom's execution of her delicious premise is scattershot, but with many more hits than misses, and her text is substantial, appropriate for her target school-age audience. Axelsen's watercolor-cum-pen-and-ink illustrations offer additional laughs and surprises. While done with a bit more polish and 'tude by Margie Palatini and Richard Egieski in 2001's The Web Files, this nursery-rhyme caper will please.
Clever wordplay marks Ransom's (What Do Your Parents Do? [When You're Not Home]) fast-paced, noir-styled offering. Detective Joe Dumpty unravels the real reason his brother, Humpty, took a spill, interviewing characters that hail from the pages of Mother Goose (she puts in an appearance, too). The puns, a little more subtle than in similar stories, are on target for the suggested audience, e.g., “I looked at my brother. He wasn't moving. Whoever did this was gonna fry!” Axelsen (the Piccolo and Annabelle series) provides plenty of humor with busy cartoon illustrations, many of them inset with boxed vignettes; Chicken Little and her offspring, for example, wear crash helmets and reside in a fortified bunker. The noir conventions add a layer of sophistication to the nursery-rhyme setting, ratcheting up the book's appeal for primary-grade readers.
Page count: 40
8 1/2 x 11