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'Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? (And Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries)'

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Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? and Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries

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"Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? (and Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries)" is a picture book by David Levinthal and John Nickle.

Officer Binky, a toad with a fedora, channels a 1940s detective as he answers his phone and solves nursery tale mysteries. It begins with Goldilocks. Officer Binky narrates.

"There are eight million stories in the forest. This is one of them. It was a typical Sunday morning for the Bear family. They had gone out for a walk while their porridge was cooling. I was working the robbery detail out of the Pinecone Division. My name's Binky. I'm a cop." (Adults may be amused by the clever "inside" references to old TV shows, like the nods to Naked City and Dragnet in this one.)

He travels to the Bears' home. He examines the clues, including one strand of blond hair and some blue cloth on a broken chair. He says, "I'd heard that story before. It could only be one dame: Goldilocks! I nabbed her trying to make her getaway."

The stories of Hansel and Gretel, Humpty Dumpty, Snow White and Jack and the Beanstalk all get probed and solved in this picture book for readers of many ages.

A perfect classroom use for younger readers is to read this book with the class after reading all the classic nursery rhymes. Then, without showing the students the picture or chapter title, read the first page. Many of the stories don't say the names of the nursery rhyme characters right away. Have the students try to guess which nursery rhyme it is. It's not as easy as it sounds.

The book is clever -- very clever. The illustrations are just the right combination of light, child-like cartoon effects mixed in with a touch of dark. Some sepia panels are also mixed in with the color pages and panels to good effect.

Fractured fairytales and nursery rhymes are in vogue. And as a teacher, I love them. Learning classic nursery rhymes and fairytales is a must for anyone who aspires to be a literate reader. Many books contain references to childhood stories, and without that knowledge, even adult readers might miss some of the author's message.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Schwartz & Wade, for review purposes.

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