cover image What REALLY Happened to Humpty? (from the Files of a Hard-boiled Detective)

What REALLY Happened to Humpty? (from the Files of a Hard-boiled Detective)

Jeanie Franz Ransom, Author, Joe Dumpty, Author, Stephen Axelsen, Illustrator , illus. by Stephen Axelsen. Charlesbridge $15.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-58089-109-7

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. Ages 6–9. (Feb.)