cover image Ode to Humpty Dumpty

Ode to Humpty Dumpty

Harriet Ziefert. Walter Lorraine Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-05047-5

Picking up where Mother Goose left off, Ziefert and Chwast's (previously paired for Moon Ride) mundane outing imagines the aftermath of Humpty Dumpty's great fall. After various tradesmen fail to save Humpty (neither the baker's flour paste nor the tailor's needle and thread prove useful), the king is grief-stricken. One Norma Jean Foote, ""creative and smart,/ Knew how to mend/ a King's broken heart"" she organizes a town-wide tribute. Using a palette that echoes the golden age of children's book illustration, Chwast's pictures ably deliver some comical images of monuments to Humpty's memory: an egg-shaped house with windows and doors that replicate his facial features; and a stone sculpture, topiary, pool slide and dance floor fashioned in Humpty's image. But the weak story line is further undone by rhyming couplets that frequently strain for effect: ""A committee planned a Dumpty Museum;/ The cooks concocted Humpty ice cream./ The seamstresses stitched Humpty-shaped pillows;/ The gardener planted more H. Dumpty willows."" The King's concluding ""ode"" unsuccessfully toys with the original verse (""Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;/ Humpty Dumpty had a great fall./ We cried and cried and were heard to mutter,/ `Our wonderful Humpty lies in the gutter' ""). Ages 4-8. (Apr.)