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What Really Happened to Humpty? (Nursery-Rhyme Mysteries) Hardcover – February 1, 2009

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1–4—When Humpty falls off the wall, his brother Joe, a detective in Mother Gooseland, is convinced that he was pushed. Thus begins the unraveling of the mystery of who did the dastardly deed. All of the characters use cell phones and some drive cars in this long and complicated tale. There are a lot of egg jokes, and wordplay abounds. In the end, Little Miss Muffet and the Big Bad Wolf go off to jail for their crime. Now Joe Dumpty has more work to do as the Dish just ran away with the Spoon and Bo Peep's sheep are roaming. The illustrations are done in watercolor, with pen and ink. The drawings are various sizes and often there are multiple frames per page. Pictures are detailed, and many contain speech balloons. This is a text-heavy story that will tickle the funny bone of readers old enough to get the jokes.—Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Hard-boiled detective Joe Dumpty’s ovoid body is encased in a ’40s-era belted brown trench coat topped with a fedora, and his clipped statements will remind older readers of TV’s Joe Friday. Here, cleft-chinned Joe recounts how he cracked one of the toughest mysteries in Mother Gooseland: the assault with intent to spill the yolky interior of his older brother, Humpty. Joe tells how he examined the crime scene before the ambulance arrived (pulled by all the king’s horses and filled with all the king’s men). He recovers some evidence from under Miss Muffet’s tuffet, interviews the shell-shocked Humpty in the hospital, and follows the trail of evidence to one very huffy Big Bad Wolf, dressed to kill in gangster pinstripes. This enchanting send-up of old-time detective stories will have older readers in stitches, while younger readers will get caught up in the clever recombination of fairy-tale characters. The illustrations, done in watercolor and pen and ink, are as filled with puns and crowded with humorous detail as the story—even the typeface looks like it was pounded out by an old Remington typewriter. This CSI: Mother Goose is a winner. Grades 1-4. --Connie Fletcher

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 550L (What's this?)
  • Series: Nursery-Rhyme Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge; New edition (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580891098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580891097
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeanie Franz Ransom got the writing bug when her third-grade teacher read Jeanie's poem aloud to the entire third grade. Jeanie entered her first writing contest in fifth grade and won a twenty-pound turkey. (Yes, the contest theme was Thanksgiving.) She sold her first story (for money, not turkeys) to Seventeen magazine when she was seventeen. Since then, Jeanie's worn many writing hats: advertising copywriter, magazine freelancer, and her very favorite, children's author. Jeanie started writing for children when she had children. Now an award-winning picture book author, she frequently speaks at schools and professional conferences. Jeanie lives near St. Louis, Missouri, with her art-director husband and a rescue Sheltie named Nemo (aka Jeanie's "office assistant," even though his typing skills are atrocious!). When she's not working at home in her "writing "lair," she's often "cafe writing" at Starbucks or anywhere else that makes a latte. You can find out more about Jeanie, her books, her school visits, and probably a random fact or two on her website: For updates on new books, signings, school visits, and more, follow Jeanie on Facebook (JeanieRansomAuthor).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dienne TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"What Really Happened to Humpty?" is a pitch perfect blend of fairy tale meets detective story.

Joe Dumpty, Humpty's younger brother narrates a classic detective story as he investigates the circumstances following Humpty's fall from the wall. After all, he'd been sitting up there for ages with nary a wobble. And then the very week he becomes captain of the neighborhood watch he suddenly falls? What are the chances?

In true detective fashion, Joe interviews the residents of Mother Gooseland - Little Miss Muffet, Goldilocks, Old Mother Hubbard, Chicken Little, the Three Little Pigs - looking for witnesses and suspects while gathering clues along the way. Deducing from the cracks in the witnesses' stories, Joe pieces together the shell of a story, then waits for the main suspect to put in an appearance. Miss Muffet's Spider wraps up the case tidily and Police Chief Goose hauls the perpetrators off to jail. And they all live happily ever after (hey, it's a fairy tail - it's not like I spoiled the ending).

Joe's story, as told to Jean Frantz Ransom, is masterfully woven, intertwining the narratives of some of the best-known fairy tales to create a plausible narrative as to how Humpty Dumpty happened to fall off the wall. The humor is eggsellent, including several well placed (admittedly corny) puns. Steven Axelsen's cartoonish illustrations are the perfect compliment to the story, and really bring it alive. There's even a helpful map of Mother Gooseland.

My only objection is that Amazon's product description indicates that the book is for children ages 4 to 8, which I think is a little young. My own almost-four-year-old basically enjoyed the story, but she was a bit confused and a lot of the humor went over her head.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James N Simpson on August 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
This picture booked sized short story with the occasional comic book (graphic novel) page linking the text and picture pages forms an interesting sequel to the classic Humpty Dumpty tale. It also is a sequel to quite a few other children's fairy tales as well through their character's cameo appearances such as Goldilocks is now a house sitter at the three bears house. Plus there's a few other fairytales which this one seems to interrupt such as Little Red Riding Hood while she's getting the food for her basket in the pre visiting grandma part of that fairytale stressed due to no muffins being sold by the shopkeeper (of course who is the muffin man). Children you're reading it to/with, assuming you've read them those stories will immediately know and want to yell out that's whoever from whatever it is. This makes the story even more fun. Although you will probably have to track down those original stories shortly after reading this.

This is a through the eyes of the main character journey through Mother Gooseland. That main character is a private detective named Joe Dumpty. When he hears his brother Humpty has fallen off his Neighbourhood Watch chair on top of the wall he rushes to the scene. Joe knows his brother wouldn't just fall off the wall, after all he is an experienced wall sitter, however Miss Muffet who was the one to dial 911 swears it was windy and he just fell. Finding his binoculars hidden under her tuffet he knows she's not telling the truth but a spider backs up her story and that's good enough for police chief Mother Goose. She does however give Joe until 5pm to prove otherwise which is when she will file her report.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G70 VINE VOICE on March 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
If parents can appreciate the average Pixar "kids" movie for the referential humor embedded to keep them awake, then "What Really Happened to Humpty?" demonstrates a mastery of the art -- this is a kids' book, to be sure, and the set of five and six year olds I read it to certainly enjoyed it -- but most any adult will feel compelled to imitate the voice work which characterized '50's radio drama. At the same time, it is tough to keep in character on the first read, because some of the jokes really are laugh-out-loud funny.

Few kids' books are as much fun to read the fifteenth time as the first; this one is as close as any. It's one that kids can ask grandma or grandpa to read to them, and which everyone will enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Judy Eyler on February 1, 2015
Format: Paperback
What REALLY Happened to Humpty? By Joe Dumpty as told to Jeanie Franz Ransom
Illustrated by Stephen Axelsen

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall...

What REALLY happened to Humpty Dumpty?? Author Jeanie Franz Ransom writes an entertainingly cracked tale that solves the mystery behind the Nursery Rhyme. Follow Detective Joe Dumpty (Humpty's brother) as he investigates the mystery behind Humpty's tumble. Ransom cleverly weaves in characters from other nursery rhymes, as well as popular folk tale figures as the crime is analyzed. Is the culprit discovered? Read this charming tale to find out.

Stephen Axelsen's illustrations support the story with amusing storybook characters. The bright colored illustrations will appeal to young and old alike. Definitely a five-star read for both children and adults!
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