The Quick 10: Mr. Men and Little Miss

Welcome to part three of our nostalgic children's book Quick 10s! Today we're visiting Roger Hargreaves' world of Mr. Men and Little Misses.

1. Mr. Tickle was the first Mr. Men character ever created. The idea for Mr. Tickle came about when Roger Hargreaves' son asked a simple question - "What does a tickle look like?" Hargreaves considered it and decided a tickle was a round, orange guy with long squiggly arms (the better to tickle you with, of course).
2. That was nearly 40 years ago - since then there have been more than 100 million books sold, 48 Mr. Men created and 42 Little Misses created. Not bad for the result of a funny question from a six-year-old!

3. After Roger died suddenly of a stroke in 1988, his son Adam took over Mr. Men and Little Miss, which I think is rather fitting and heartwarming. The first book written and illustrated by Adam is 2003's Mr. Cool.

4. If you have Mr. Small and Little Miss Star in your personal library, go check them out for author cameos. Mr. Small lives under a daisy in Mr. Robinson's garden and one day he meets Mr. Robinson's friend who happens to write and illustrate children's books. The friend? Roger Hargreaves, of course. Little Miss Star desperately wants to be famous and along her travels encounters a man, but all we see of him is his long legs. We find out later in the book that the man was Roger Hargreaves - he writes a book about her, making her the star she always wanted to be.

5. Does Stella McCartney have a great life, or what? She has a successful fashion line and a Beatle for a dad, of course, but she's also the only person to have a Little Miss book written specifically about her. Adam Hargreaves wrote Little Miss Stella to be used as invitations to one of her fashion shows. There are only 1,000 of these books in existence, so consider yourself lucky if you have one!
6. In 2001, a contest was held for children to create their own Mr. Men character. The winner was eight-year-old Gemma Almond, who came up with Mr. Cheeky. Mr. Cheeky was only sold in W.H. Smith stores; part of the profits went to a children's leukemia charity.
7. Some of the Mr. Men and Little Misses go by different names here in the U.S. For example, the U.K.'s Mr. Jelly is known as Mr. Nervous in the states. Mr. Mean is Mr. Stingy and Little Miss Dotty is actually Little Miss Ditzy (I think I prefer Dotty). There's also Mr. Fussy vs. Mr. Persnickety.

8. This is for the font geeks out there - depending on which book you're reading, the font is either Univers, Optima or Helvetica.

9. The Mr. Men characters have been developed into T.V. series on four occasions. The first was in 1975, just a couple of years after the books were first published. Another followed in 1983 that included the Little Miss characters as well (the Little Misses had just been created in 1981). A third, called Mr. Men and Little Miss, had a brief run between 1995 and 1997. The latest incarnation, The Mr. Men Show, started in 2008 and is still running on the Cartoon Network. Anyone watch? They have a pretty cool website that allows you to "meet" each character.

10. In the original books, each character comes from a different town - Mr. Happy comes from Happyland, Little Miss Contrary lives in Muddleland, Little Miss Dotty lives in Nonsenseland with Mr. Silly and Mr. Nonsense. Makes sense, right? But to pull things together for The Mr. Men Show, all of the Mr. Men and Little Misses were moved to a single township called Dillydale.

Do you have a favorite Little Miss or Mr. Man? I'm partial to Little Miss Curious and her question mark-shaped house, but Little Miss Stubborn hits a bit close to home as well. And if you could make your own Mr. Man or Little Miss, what would his or her name be? I kind of like the idea of Little Miss Suspicious, myself.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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