Humpty Dumpty sat on the slide by Tony Wilson
Illus. by Laura Wood. Scholastic, 2020. ISBN: 9781743834770.
(Age: 3+) When Humpty Dumpty comes down the slide he sticks as he is too wide, and no one can help him, certainly not the king's horses and the kings' cows. Everyone laughs, and Humpty Dumpty laughs along with them. So begins a parody of the well known Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme, the readers expecting the rhyme to go in the way they know but being surprised when it takes a different tack. The readers will listen intently to see where each line goes, and laugh with Humpty Dumpty when he falls, although when it happens over again children will be very sympathetic with the bullied egg. This comes to the fore when the group is playing a game and Humpty Dumpty is not invited to join in: he simply watches from the sidelines, and with his composed good nature cheers them on. Children will feel sorrow for the neglected egg and think about what he could do or what they would do in that situation.
The crunch comes when he goes along to a birthday party and the group tells him to go away as he is not invited. Fortunately the birthday girl stops them and takes him as her special friend, telling them all that he has been invited. The group then has a great time at the party, particularly Humpty Dumpty who even when he falls, finds that the king's horses and the king's men cannot separate him from his friend.
With simple rhymes, asking readers to anticipate the rhyming word, and seeing how differently the words scan compared to the known nursery rhyme, this story has broad appeal as it encourages children to think about exclusion and isolation, about friendship and being in a group. The bullying that occurs represents things they see every day, and readers will see how Humpty feels about it and so sympathise, seeing themselves and others in that situation, and thinking and talking about a way out.
Themes: Parody, Humpty Dumpty, Friendship, Bullying.