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[Monday Reading] Nursery Rhyme Mysteries and HardBoiled Detectives

"Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? And Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries" by David Levinthal and Illustrated by John Nickle | "What Really Happened To Humpty? From The Files Of A Hard-Boiled Detective" As Told To Jeanie Franz Ransom and Illustrated by Stephen Axelsen.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

It was not all that easy finding picturebooks that fit our current reading theme, but thankfully, I am a researcher at heart, blessed with amazing libraries here in Singapore.

Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? And Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries

Written by: David Levinthal Illustrated by: John Nickle
Published by: Schwartz & Wade (2012)
ISBN: 0375841954 (ISBN13: 9780375841958). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

There are four case files shared in this picturebook, detailing the true story of what actually happened with (1) Hansel and Gretel in the woods, (2) Humpty Dumpty and who pushed him, (3) Snow White and the poisoned apples, (4) Jack and the Beanstalk and the giant who fell to earth.

A Frog Detective in a suit with a notepad takes all the pertinent details and makes a decision as to whether Hansel and Gretel’s case is one of self-defense, and gathers sufficient enough evidence to put a poor pig in handcuffs:

Each mini-story ends with a closed case, signifying that the culprits get their comeuppance in the end, as all comforting stories should go.

Like all fractured fairytales, the narrative’s effectiveness is contingent on the young reader knowing the original story to begin with. Otherwise, much of the humour heavily based on intertextuality will be lost to them.

What Really Happened To Humpty? From The Files Of A Hard-Boiled Detective

As Told To: Jeanie Franz Ransom Illustrated by: Stephen Axelsen
Published by: Charlesbridge (2009)
ISBN: 1580891098 (ISBN13: 9781580891097)Literary Award: New Mexico Land of Enchantment Award for Picture Book Narrative (2011). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Admittedly, this one is my favourite among the two books I am sharing here. The main character of the story is Joe Dumpty, Humpty’s younger brother who happens to be a detective. Most naturally, he is keen on cracking the case of his brother, whom he feels has been pushed from that great wall.

The endpapers show a detailed map of Mother Gooseland indicating beloved characters that most young children would undoubtedly be familiar with: from Chicken Little to the Three Little Pigs to Jack and Jill’s Day Care Centre – except that in this story, the tale has been turned over on its head, which is what clever fractured fairy tales should do.

The word play in this story is brilliantly-conceived – yet never missing a beat of the plot, with Miss Muffet here the last person to talk to poor Humpty who thankfully has “landed sunny-side up.” There are also enough details from the original rhyme embedded into the plot that make for seeing the familiar with strange eyes – see all the king’s men in the image below, for instance.

Whether or not Humpty was really pushed, I shall leave for you readers to discover. Do know, though, that there is a hard-boiled detective in town (or Mother Gooseland to be precise), and he is one tough sleuth.

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10 comments on “[Monday Reading] Nursery Rhyme Mysteries and HardBoiled Detectives

  1. lindabaie

    Oh my, these look hilarious. My granddaughters will love them, and do know the stories! Thanks, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. avidreaderdiary

    Here's my IMWAYR this week –

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your pairing of mystery books, this week! I would love to prepare a few weeks of exploring all the mystery and “alternate” versions of these tales, since we have such wonderful ones to choose from these days. Have a wonderful reading week, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have read both of these with my oldest son. He always loved nursery rhymes especially Humpty Dumpty so he loved this twist on the nursery rhyme.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with you that the second book looks great. Thanks for sharing some great spreads too. I am adding that one to my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love fractured fairy tales!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The Humpty books look great! I definitely have to look into these.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sarah Sammis

    Interesting selection of books. My weekly updates

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Haha, cute! I want those books. They look fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jana Eschner

    Both of these Humpty Dumpty books look like they would be awesome to share with kids. I’ll definitely need to check them out. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

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