Humpty Dumpty tells his story. We all know about his accident. But what happens next? It seems the king’s men were able to put him together again – well mostly. It is certainly possible to mend the physical hurts but not so easy to heal the psychological, And Humpty now suffers from a fear of heights, which means he can no longer enjoy the things he did – in particular his love of watching birds fly. Will he always live with this fear? Can his life be transformed?
On one level this is a book that tells the story of a Nursery Rhyme character with humour and wit; on another level it deals with fear, anxiety, determination, perseverance and finally the success that leads to transformation, here in the case of Humpty Dumpty a literal and very logical transformation. The storytelling is direct and engaging as Humpty takes us through his predicament. Santat’s dramatic use of perspective ensures that we constantly see the neighbourhood from Humpty’s point of view. Our engagement is total – and the joyous surprise at the end an affirmation of what overcoming barriers to a dream can achieve. Throughout, the illustrations extend and enhance the narrative. Little details easy to miss provide depth – from the opening spread where Humpty sits on his wall in sunshine, to the empty wall with a lone bird perched on it and on through the pages as Humpty gazes longingly at the top shelf in the supermarket again glowing with colour and light, and the reader is as drawn into the story as much by the images as by the words. Winner of the Caldecott Medal 2017, it is a book to be shared widely.