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.