Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall

Derek Hughes, illus. by Nathan Christopher. Penguin Workshop, $14.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5247-9302-9
Dizzyingly detailed black-and-white illustrations draw readers into a dystopian take on an eggy tale. Hughes’s Humpty lives in a walled kingdom ruled by a profit-mad king: “All the king’s subjects/ lived life in dismay/ All day long busy,/ with no time to play.” Christopher’s simple rhyming text is dense with possibility—of walls as a symbol, of “self-serving” kings—but the plot is allusive and murky. Though Humpty scales the edifice and crashes, and the king rushes out photos trumpeting the wall’s victory, “On broken eggshells, pushed in a great pile.../ one piece was on top,// that piece had a smile.” Christopher’s inky drawings render fairy-land grotesques with needle-sharp lines and indicate that Humpty’s defiant act sparks ladder-building in a variety of places. Ages 10–up. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 01/28/2020
Release date: 01/07/2020
Genre: Children's
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