Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?: And Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries

Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?: And Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries

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by David Levinthal, John Nickle
     
 

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Break-in at the Three Bears family home? It could only be one dame. Wicked witch gone missing from her candied cottage? Hansel and Gretel claim it was self-defense. Did Humpty Dumpty really just fall off that wall, or was he pushed? Here are five fairy-tale stories with a twist, all told from the point of view of a streetwise police officer called Binky, who just…  See more details below

Overview

Break-in at the Three Bears family home? It could only be one dame. Wicked witch gone missing from her candied cottage? Hansel and Gretel claim it was self-defense. Did Humpty Dumpty really just fall off that wall, or was he pushed? Here are five fairy-tale stories with a twist, all told from the point of view of a streetwise police officer called Binky, who just happens to be a toad in a suit and a fedora. When Snow White doesn't make it to the beauty pageant, Officer Binky is the first to find the apple core lying by her bed. When an awful giant mysteriously crashes to the ground, upsetting the whole town, Binky discovers exactly who is responsible. Author David Levinthal and illustrator John Nickle retell these classic stories in the style of a 1940s noir detective novel—for kids!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“There are eight million stories in the forest. This is one of them,” announces bullfrog Binky, the plainclothes cop who investigates situations like Humpty Dumpty’s demise and a witch’s disappearance in “Hansel and Gretel.” Binky starts his day with a call from Mrs. Bear, reporting a robbery. Once Goldilocks confesses, Binky unsentimentally reports, “They’ll feed her three meals a day where she’s going.” Another incident involves “that sweet girl who cleaned for the Seven Dwarfs.... Boy, what a knockout!” When Snow White is poisoned, suspicion falls on the royal judge of a beauty pageant. Following each procedural, a red “case closed” stamp appears across a picture of the jailed or handcuffed culprit. Levinthal, best known for his photography, nails the tone of the Dragnet-style escapades that make up his picture book debut, and Nickle’s (Hans My Hedgehog) obsessively detailed acrylics have a sinister edge that suits the mood. His panels are somewhat awkwardly framed in unadorned borders, and the no-frills, sans-serif typeface does little to complement the images or deadpan narration, but readers should still be tickled by these noirish retellings. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
In language reminiscent of old-time-radio detective stories, Officer Binky narrates a few of his cases, which will be very familiar to young readers. A call from Mrs. Bear sends Binky to his first crime scene: eaten porridge, broken chair, rumpled bed. "It could only be one dame: Goldilocks! I nabbed her trying to make her getaway….They'll feed her three meals a day where she's going." A missing-person report has Binky driving to the Deep Dark Woods to investigate a woodcutter and his two children. It doesn't take long for him to determine it was self-defense. An omelet leads the diminutive frog cop to Humpty's killer, while the crime lab helps him solve the case of the poisoning of a beautiful girl by a beauty-pageant judge. The final case is less a mystery than an investigation into the cause of an explosion/earthquake. Luckily, some golden eggs are the hard evidence Binky needs to get the lieutenant to believe what happened. The acrylic artwork suits the noir atmosphere, somber colors and tension-filled scenes alternating with humorous details that match the tongue-in-cheek text. The one quibble is that Nickle's people are rather stiff, with oddly shaped heads and strange facial expressions. Still, there is humor to appeal to all ages here. Levinthal's children's-book debut lacks the laugh-out-loud silliness that is Margie Palatini and Richard Egielski's mashup The Web Files (2001), but this will find an audience. (Fractured fairy tales. 5-9)
From the Publisher
The New York Times, August 23, 2012:
"That’s the way the nursery rhyme crumbles in these humorous retellings, cast in the world of hard-boiled crime and private detectives."

The Huffington Post, August 6, 2012:
"The first children's book from the wildly creative Levinthal and I hope it won't be the last."

Booklist, September 15, 2012:
"Kids will certainly be familiar with all these stories, and Levinthal supplies just enough of a twist with each one to make them fresh again without necessarily reinventing any of them. What’ll really stop kids in their tracks, though, is Nickle’s acrylic artwork. His sophisticated touch is as equally suited to the dramatic, black-andwhite re-creations of the crimes as it is to the cheeky scenes of Binky gumshoeing about with various woodland creatures."

School Library Journal, September 2012:
"The tongue-in-cheek telling of tales will tickle the fancies of children familiar with the originals."

Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Binky the frog cop solves "notorious nursery rhyme mysteries" in this funny fracturing of familiar fairy tales. In pared-down, detective style, Binky tells of cases involving a kidnapped goose, a blonde named Goldilocks and a mirror-obsessed queen. Kids will love searching out clues in the pictures, along with the notepad-wielding, fedora-wearing Binky, and seeing the usual story motifs in a new context, including Snow White's apple core in the crime lab. The book design is especially arresting (pun intended!), with double-page spreads alternating with panels for visual punch. "There are eight million stories in the forest," Binky begins this narrative. Here's hoping this amphibious crime solver will return to tell us a few more. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—These open-and-shut cases of nursery-rhyme mysteries are narrated by Officer Binky, a toad with a manner reminiscent of Joe Friday's on the old Dragnet TV show, with his typical "Just the facts, Ma'am" style. In the first of five short stories, the officer gets a call from Mrs. Bear, who is upset because someone broke into the family home, ate their porridge, sat in their chairs, and slept in their beds. Based upon the evidence-a blond hair and an empty bowl, a piece of blue material caught in a chair that has seen better days, and a disheveled quilt on a bed-Officer Binky deduces that it "could only be one dame: Goldilocks!" When questioned, she admits to being the intruder. The intrepid cop assures readers that "they'll feed her three meals a day where she's going, and she'll have plenty of time to rest." Hansel and Gretel, Humpty Dumpty, Snow White, and Jack and the Beanstalk are all similarly treated in eight pages or less with the police officer quickly solving the mysteries behind the well-known tales. Illustrations are presented in a variety of sizes and set off by frames in different colors. At the end of each segment, a red stamp reading 'CASE CLOSED' is superimposed over Nickle's richly colored acrylic artwork. The tongue-in-cheek telling of tales will tickle the fancies of children familiar with the originals.—Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375841958
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
09/25/2012
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
299,705
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
The New York Times, August 23, 2012:
"That’s the way the nursery rhyme crumbles in these humorous retellings, cast in the world of hard-boiled crime and private detectives."

The Huffington Post, August 6, 2012:
"The first children's book from the wildly creative Levinthal and I hope it won't be the last."

Booklist, September 15, 2012:
"Kids will certainly be familiar with all these stories, and Levinthal supplies just enough of a twist with each one to make them fresh again without necessarily reinventing any of them. What’ll really stop kids in their tracks, though, is Nickle’s acrylic artwork. His sophisticated touch is as equally suited to the dramatic, black-andwhite re-creations of the crimes as it is to the cheeky scenes of Binky gumshoeing about with various woodland creatures."

School Library Journal, September 2012:
"The tongue-in-cheek telling of tales will tickle the fancies of children familiar with the originals."

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Meet the Author

DAVID LEVINTHAL is a celebrated photographer known for his use of toy figurines and tableaux for his art. He illustrated the covers for the immensely popular, New York Times-bestselling books by Sarah Vowell—Assassination Vacation, The Wordy Shipmates, and Unfamiliar Fishes. He is also the author of I.E.D.: War in Iraq and Hitler Moves East: A Graphic Chronicle, 1941-43, among others. He has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and has been named a Guggenheim Fellow.

JOHN NICKLE is the amazing author and illustrator of Alphabet Explosion!, The Ant Bully, and TV Rex. He is also the illustrator of Judi Barrett's Never Take a Shark to the Dentist: And Other Things Not to Do and Things That Are Most in the World. The Ant Bully was made into a feature film in 2006. 

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