Long before Humpty Dumpty sat on a while, he lived near one. Tall and impressive, it held everyone in place. And in a world run by an oppressive King, it’s no wonder the egg wanted to see what was on the other side.
It’s hard to imagine someone coming along with a new and fresh take on Humpty Dumpty, and yet that’s exactly what Derek Hughes has done. Placing the nursery rhyme character in a dystopian world with a focus on menial work, Hughes showcases the horror of living without dreaming. With playful rhymes juxtaposed against a dark plot, Humpty Dumpty’s plan builds to a shattering finish— in more ways than one.
And part of what makes this so successful is the intricate illustration work from Nathan Christopher. With detailed black and white illustrations, Christopher has expertly crafted a whimsical fairy tale world with a macabre undercurrent. His careful expressions for Humpty Dumpty — human and complex — tell a story all on their own.
Though Hughes lands on a hopeful note, that doesn’t necessarily translate to an obviously happy ending. And that’s a good thing, ultimately making this a thoughtful and timely play on a classic.
Title: Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall
Author: Derek Hughes
Illustrator: Nathan Christopher
Publisher: Penguin Workshop
Publication Date: January 07, 2020
Classification: Picture Book
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through Edelweiss.