November 17, 2017

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After the Fall by Dan Santat | SLJ Review

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redstarSANTAT, Dan. After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again. illus. by Dan Santat. 40p. Roaring Brook. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626726826.

PreS-Gr 2–Humpty Dumpty, a spindly-limbed pale egg, copes with anxiety after his “Great Fall.” Though his shell has mostly healed, a newfound fear of heights prevents him from enjoying his birdwatching, and even from choosing the delicious cereal on the top shelf at the store. But he still yearns for the skies, and Santat employs a variety of striking perspectives to help readers appreciate the enormity of Humpty’s isolation and distance from his goal. Determined not to give up his favorite hobby, Humpty builds a model plane—Santat milks the humor of the frustrated, fastidious egg during a design sequence—that soars across the sky. When another, lesser accident occurs, Humpty must conquer his nerves or give up on flying. Santat’s straightforward language throughout acknowledges the gravity of Humpty’s fears without edging into melodrama; the short, declarative sentences that mark his anxious climb back onto the wall are rousing in their simplicity. (The backlit egg’s triumphant posture doubles down on the text.) Many readers might have considered the ascent an adequate end, but Santat indulges in one more high note when the reformed shell cracks anew and releases an exultant bird. VERDICT Santat’s precise illustrations and sensitive text combine for more emotional depth than the typical nursery rhyme remix. A terrific redemptive read-aloud for storytime and classroom sharing.–Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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