Review Blog

Nov 28 2017

After the fall by Dan Santat

cover image

Lothian Children's Books, ISBN 9780734418319
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Humpty Dumpty. Nursery rhyme. Confidence. Children will simply love this sequel to a beloved nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty. The fate of that famous egg is not known but Santat plays with the story, giving a very funny sequel after the fall. The subtitle, How Humpty Dumpty got back up again, will alert readers to the tale they are about to read, and without thinking they will readily recall the nursery rhyme and be ready for anything. Humpty tells the reader what happens after the fall. He declines to call it the Great Fall, preferring to use the words a 'just an accident', but the results of his accident are far reaching. He can no longer climb the wall to sit there watching the birds, a once favourite past time, he cannot sleep on his bed as it is the top bunk, he cannot climb the ladder to the higher shelves in the supermarket even though his favourite cereal is at the top. But he still loves watching the birds, although now from the ground. When a paper plane flies past he decides to try making a paper plane to soar with the birds. After many unsuccessful attempts he finally makes a magnificent paper plane and is able to fly it with the birds he so likes. But it flies over the wall. A decision must be made.
This is a wonderful look at what frightens us and how we can overcome fear, developing confidence to do something we are unsure of, taking a risk, stretching a boundary. Humpty is very frightened of the wall after his accident, his fear reflected in the number of things he can no longer do. With lashings of humour, Santat develops his sequel to this well known rhyme, encouraging readers to think about things which they may be worried about and what steps they need to take to overcome their fear.
Santat's illustrations are wonderful, from the title page with its playful font, to the little additions of aptly named breakfast cereal, children's at the top and more mundane adult fodder at the bottom, to the images of the city in the background, each adding an intriguing level of interest for the astute reader. Each page is very different, some taking a bird's eye perspective, some Humpty's, while all entreat the reader to look again, to work out what they are seeing, to think about Humpty and what he is doing to overcome his fear, and then how it relates to them, soaring with him on the last magnificent page.
Fran Knight

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