My name is Humpty Dumpty.
This was my favourite spot, high up on the wall.
And so begins the story of what happened to Humpty after his famous fall. Left with a paralysing fear of heights, he is no longer able to enjoy his lofty viewpoint- even the top bunk of his bed is too high for him.
Forced to watch the birds from the ground, Humpty finds some consolation in making paper planes until his model sails over the wall. Summoning all his courage, Humpty scales the wall once again with amazing results!
'After the Fall' is a story about perseverance, facing your fears and the transformation which this can bring. It is a stunning book, brilliantly exploring Humpty's emotions. We learn from the article framed on his bedroom wall, his binoculars and drawings of birds that he is an avid bird watcher, drawn to the sky , the joy of flight. His misery at being denied this is cleverly emphasised by the illustrations- his posture and expressions certainly tell us this, but there are other clues as well. In one spread, Humpty walks along the shadow cast by the wall as if balancing on the edge of his fear; in another, he is a tiny figure opposite the vast wall, viewed from the base, towering above him with the golden light of the sun peeking over the top. When eventually he is brave enough to climb once more, his shaking hand reaches for the next rung of the ladder whilst the other clings on tightly. This use of light and shadow to reflect emotion is also shown in his joy at overcoming his fear; he is haloed in light as he stands, triumphant, on the summit.
The illustrations could easily be used to develop inference and critical skills. There is so much to discuss and enjoy that further stories are bound to emerge from Humpty's recount. The viewpoint taken in various pictures also lend themselves to developing ideas about perspective in art. The story could also encourage children to consider what happened to other nursery rhyme characters after their story 'ends'- Little Bo Peep, Incy Wincy Spider, the mouse in Hickory Dickory Dock all could have new tales.
A brilliant story about overcoming adversity and fear, 'After the Fall' is a fabulous book which will appeal to all ages.
After the Fall Dan Santat
Andersen Press ISBN: 978-1783446353