Humpty Dumpty – What Happened After His Fall?

“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

So, what  really happened to Humpty after his fall?

“After the Fall” by Dan Santat tells the story.  It is one of the most innovative children’s picture books ever.  Humpty is ‘mended’… but not really.

“There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.”

This is the beginning of the story, and children are immediately captivated.  Is it because of Humpty Dumpty?  No.  He is a character they know, yet it’s the words and illustrations on this page that make children think, “I feel that way sometimes.”

See that ladder?  It is throughout the book; ‘there’ and an obstacle in many everyday things he wants to do.

As the book goes on, Humpty cannot climb up.  The ladder to his wall is looming.  He just can’t do it, and he misses out on many things, like being high above the city and watching the birds.  He loves the birds.

An idea flew by.  If he can’t be up there with the birds, he can make his own.  And so Humpty puts all his energy into making a paper plane bird.

“Making paper planes was harder than I thought.
It was easy to get cuts and scratches.
But day after day, I kept trying…
…and trying…”

This is where children begin to cheer Humpty.  He has survived a fall, realized that he cannot climb a ladder, and tries to do something else to make himself happy.  Humpty is moving forward.  But the worst is yet to happen.  He perfects his paper plane bird.  It is marvelous.  One day it lands on top of the wall – his wall.

“Unfortunately, accidents happen…”

I stop reading and let children look at this powerful illustration.  We talk.  Oh, how we talk.  The floodgates of all that has happened to Humpty open their doors.  Children need to talk about being scared and worried, and messing up.  They understand Humpty.  More importantly, they are relieved they’re not alone.

What does Humpty do?  His beloved paper plane bird has landed on top of the wall – his wall.  He decides to climb that ladder.  This is the bravest thing he has ever done, and Humpty is terrified.

“I didn’t look up.
I didn’t look down.
I just kept climbing>
One step at a time.”

Humpty makes it to the top.  “Until I was no longer afraid” are his words.  We stop and take a deep breath.  Whew!  The conversations flow.  Being afraid is one thing, overcoming that fear is another.  Humpty Dumpty is an egg.  Eggs hatch, and Humpty hatched after he overcame his fear and climbed that ladder.

A most important life lesson is in this book.  Resiliency.  Children need good stories and role models to help them develop this skill.  Humpty Dumpty is a role model.  “After the Fall” is an outstanding book.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in Book Review, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, picture books, preschool, reading aloud, reading aloud, self esteem and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Humpty Dumpty – What Happened After His Fall?

  1. Darlene says:

    Wow! What a great book about facing your fears. All kids need this book. Pleased you are reading this to the children. They won´t forget these valuable lessons.

  2. What a nice character! 😉 A funny, and very toughtful story! Thank you for sharing, Jennie! Enjoy a wonderful week! Michael

  3. barbtaub says:

    WOW! What a fabulous post. I went straight to Amazon and ordered this for my granddaughters.

  4. That looks like a wonderful story. I am on my third children’s book and it is so energising to put life lessons in the text. I do it without thinking. That book looks like a great example. I’ll look for it for my granddaughter. Thanks.

    • Jennie says:

      It is wonderful when there’s a life lesson in the book. This one is terrific. I’m glad you’re writing children’s books. I just discovered Query Tracker. Do you use it?

  5. Hurray to Dan Santat for not believing that Humpty was beyond help!!

  6. beth says:

    Oh, I can’t wait to read this! Thank you!

  7. beetleypete says:

    A wonderfully inspiring story, and beautifully illustrated too. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  8. Ritu says:

    I have this book in my Amaxon basket!

  9. This sounds like a wonderful story, and the illustrations look really nice as well. Thanks for sharing this story with us, Jennie!

  10. quiall says:

    The best lessons are the ones you don’t even know you’re learning.

  11. thanks again for sharing this story. we all need to hear it right now

  12. This looks wonderful Jennie. I’m sending in a request to buy for my library.

  13. Powerful. The extra added plus of being ‘hatched’ after overcoming/leaning into his fears is the cherry on the top.

  14. Oh, thank goodness! All these years I had written Humpty off as a lost cause. It’s so good that he can be saved and anything is possible.

  15. Dan Antion says:

    Much better than the simple nursery rhyme. Very nice.

  16. A terrific story and lessons for children. Thanks for sharing, Jennie.

  17. Luanne says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Jennie. I’ve never heard of this book, and I so love children’s books!

  18. petespringerauthor says:

    Oh, my gosh! I LOVE books like this—so much wisdom and powerful lessons in one children’s book. I can envision the children looking for the ladder in each photo, and of course, rooting Humpty on. “Until I was no longer afraid,”—magical words. I’m sure that you got into the spirit of things (because we often think alike) about sharing some of your own fears. I often found that when we shared our own vulnerabilities with children, they instantly want to share. It was a way of connecting with them as effectively as anything I ever did as a teacher.

    • Jennie says:

      Yes! There is so much in this book. I hope you check it out at the library so you can savor the whole thing. The wisdom and lessons are right there. Children found the ladder in each page, but it was not so easy to figure out why. Those were the best discussions. You pinpointed one of the best sentences in the book,

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, I shared my own fears. That opened a floodgate for children to share their fears. It was wonderful. I was one of them, and that is the greatest bonding experiences a teacher can have with children.

  19. CarolCooks2 says:

    Wow-what a wonderful book I am sure Lily will love this..heading over to see if I can find one on my sites here …reading this I could just see your children and how they interacted with the story…Marvellous 🙂 x

  20. Annika Perry says:

    Jennie, wow! What an incredible book with so much to teach us all and I LOVE how the students are so open with their emotions, thoughts, have a clear understanding of who they are – many of us can learn from them! xx

  21. The writer of this book really understands and knows how to express this to children. The reader of this book understands and knows how to get the children to talk about it and listens so well. What a wonderful combination.

  22. A. L. Kaplan says:

    Reblogged this on alkaplan and commented:
    What a wonderful story of overcoming difficulties.

  23. Jennie says:

    Yes, much better. Thank you, Dan.

  24. nabilahnovel says:

    That story looks meaningful and fun. Thank you for sharing it with us

  25. Lokesh Sastya says:

    We should be resilient. Teaching children the learning of resiliency can make them stronger. They’ll solve their problems by themselves. ❤ Love the post.

  26. dgkaye says:

    What a clever idea to write about whatever happened to Humpty after his fall. ❤

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