After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat

After the Fall: 
How Humpty Got Back Up Again 
Purchased with grant funds for my library 
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) picks up where the well known nursery rhyme ends: learning how to move forward again after accident. And it's the juxtaposition of the absurdity of the nursery rhyme as we know it with the seriousness of recovering emotionally as well as physically after a trauma that makes Santat's book so moving and memorable. Of course, Santat also has a unique style of illustration that is instantly recognizable and engaging.

Humpty Dumpty narrates his story matter of factly, letting readers know that he realized the top of a high wall is "an odd place for an egg to be," but his love of being close to the birds is what drove him up there day after day. Of his accident, he says, "Folks called it 'The Great Fall,' which sounds a little grand. It was just an accident. But it changed my life." With a series of illustrations, the sad overtone tinged with a bit of humor (be sure to read the names of all the cereals when Humpty is at the market), Santat shows readers how the accident has changed Humpty's life. In short, he will not climb anymore ladders. Humpty thinks that he has found a workaround: making and flying paper airplanes just might satisfy his passion for being close to the birds. 

When this eventually fails, Humpty finds himself staring up at the very wall he fell from. There is a brief sentence explaining how and why he finally changes his mindset, but, he decides to climb that wall.  He is nervous, terrified, but he continues to climb until he is "no longer afraid." Humpty's final words;

Maybe now you won't think of me as that egg who was famous for falling. Hopefully, you'll remember me as the egg who got back up . . . and learned how to fly.

are spread across six pages where we see a glorious transformation occurs. I won't reveal it here - that marvelous moment is yours to discover. While metaphorical, the familiar figure of Humpty Dumpty should be enough to translate this powerful message of self-determination, self-care and life after trauma.


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