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I have always been a big fan of the Mr Men and when I was younger delighted in the tales of this mad family of strange characters. Since I was a kid a myriad of new characters have been created, two of these being Little Miss Christmas and Mr Christmas, both appear to have been created with the term 'Christmas Spin-Off' in mind.
We bought both books for our little one this Christmas and I have to say this is easily the weaker of the two books, telling the tale of Mr Christmas and his efforts to help his relative Father Christmas deliver presents to all of the Mr Men.
While the drawings are as good as ever, the writing leaves a lot to be desired, it departs from the usual third person style of story telling and has Mr Christmas telling his tale, like a slightly less depressing character from Sin City, he relates his story in a dull manner which really bored both me and my little one.
While the story explains some of the elements of the Little Miss Christmas story, some of the issues such as the Giant who provides Mr Christmas with transport are just too leftfield and don't fit with the story at all. The narrative is juggled and lazy, while the story doesn't really develop or keep a young mind enthralled, I was daydreaming about other things reading it and about 5 pages in my young child made their feelings perfectly clear by trying to rip the page I was reading.
The story, feels like a Christmas cash in to me, we bought it for £3.99 at Waterstones and I think this was poor value, it is too long, too contrived, lacks any real interest and just doesn't fit with the usual Mr Men style.
I would recommend reading the original stories or buying Little Miss Christmas if you want a festive themed Hargreaves story, this is a bit of a let down and unfortunately spread little festive cheer in our house.
My son (almost 7) is a huge fan of the Mr Men series. On a recent outing to choose a new book he ended up choosing three from the Roger Hargreaves series (Mr Men and Little Miss books with added sparkle)!! I didn't mind too much as I love to encourage his interest in reading books and W H Smith had on a 3 for 2 offer so we got three books for £5.98).
On to the one being reviewed here - Mr Christmas.
The picture on the cover is the first thing to mention as it is particularly eyecatching due to the falling snow and snowy ground being heavily coated with sparkly silver glitter (always a winning material as far as young children are concerned) and why the back states '...books with added Sparkle' as each in the series either has glitter or uses metallics on them. Mr Christmas, who is in the shape of a green triangle thereby replicating a well known christmas related object looks very friendly, happy and Christmassy and despite being out in the cold has a bright yellow nose!
What's interesting to note on the inside cover is that, Roger (who died in 1988) did write this story but it was illustrated by his son Adam who also writes and illustrates some of the other titles in this series.
On to the story. Mr Christmas lives in Mistletoe Cottage in the South Pole and is the nephew of the great man himself - Father Christmas!
One day, Percy the postman brings Mr Christmas a letter from his Uncle who of course lives in the North Pole asking for his help to deliver all the Christmas presents to the Mr Men as there are so many of them dotted around the place and of course Father Christmas also has everyone else in the world to get to (including one hopes the Little Misses who are not featured here)! Mr Christmas immediately rings his Uncle, Father Christmas to say that he would love to help but then has to work out just how he will carry out this monumental task.
With the help of a giant wizard called Wizard Winterbottom (most kids will no doubt chortle at the name) who resides in a giant castle, he obtains some unusual transportation to help him and then goes about deciding what to buy for all the Mr Men and trying to get everything wrapped up and ready for delivery on Christmas Eve.
Read the book to find out if he manages this successfully and what he has decided to buy for the Mr Men (they are all amusingly apt presents for each character)!
The story itself is quite straightforward with amusing little nuances that might go over very young children's heads but which older children (and parents) will appreciate. Finally, just when you think the story is at an end, there is one more part divulged with a funny little twist (a classic Hargreaves' signature piece that always ran through his original Mr Men books).
As per all of the Mr Men books, the illustrations (here illustrated as mentioned by Adam Hargreaves) are simple yet bold, colourful and completely in harmony with the original series and it's nice to see so many Mr Men featured (albeit briefly) in the one book.
A nice read for Mr Men fans and although a long way off a really good little stocking filler for Christmas.
also on ciao under rylanellaxx