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Mr Men - what a fantastic collection of books for kids!
The Mr Men and Little Miss Series
On 10th August 1971 the first six Mr Men books were published, these were Mr Tickle, Mr Greedy, Mr Nosey, Mr Bump and Mr Sneeze. The author, Roger Hargreaves had begun his Mr Men stories when his son Adam asked what a tickle looked like, he draw it, and Mr Tickle was born. Roger Hargreaves both wrote and illustrated the Mr Men and Little Miss Books until his death in 1988, when his son Adam took over. To date there are 49 Mr Men stories and 42 Little Miss stories. Each of the books focuses on a different character with a dominant personality conveying a simple moral. The books are hugely successful, selling over 100 million copies worldwide!
The Mr Men and Little Miss rights have been bought by a Japanese company who now print the books. It's the same company that owns Hello Kitty.
Mr Tickle lives in Happyland, along with all the other Mr Men and Little Miss characters. He has an orange body, extraordinary long arms, a cheeky grin and wears a blue hat. Mr tickle loves tickling, tickling is both his hobby and his job and causes all his "victims" a lot of trouble! In the space of a day Mr Tickle's tickles cause a teacher to jump in the air in front of her class, a traffic policemen to divert the traffic wrongly resulting in a crash, a grocer to fall backwards knocking a his pile of apples everywhere and a postman to drop all his mail in a puddle! Oh dear Mr Tickle!
Mr Tickle goes home feeling very satisfied with his tickling day.
Looking into the Stories
Have you ever noticed that the majority of characters in the Mr Men books are human and are also the ones who suffer from the Mr Men's dominant characters? The human characters are very simple and stereotypic of traditional jobs, like Mrs Packet the Grocer, Mr Stamp the Postman, Dr Makeyouwell the doctor. Many of the human characters don't even have a name, like the policeman or the school teacher. The Mr Men's world of Happyland is very unreal, but the world of the humans in the books has almost become unreal too, representing an era which begins to fade after the seventies, with a world full of village policemen, grocers, butchers and even candlestick makers! My son asked what a grocer was when we were reading Mr Bump, it never occurred to me he wouldn't know, but then why would he, we always go to the supermarket.
The books are in a sense stuck in a time warp of grocers and candlestick makers, but they have also become a timeless classic. One thing that will carry through the decades are the morals this book promotes, which is put across subtly in a way children understand. I find that my children love Mr Men and Little Miss tales and it certainly encourages them to read. Each book is closely themed meaning words come up multiple times in each story, helping familiarity in the recognition of words as we read together. They even provide history lessons on shopping trends and how we had grocers in the 1980s!
There are some special edition books which are printed in different formats, but traditionally all the Mr Men books are printed in paperback, with a simple shiny white cover with the Mr Men's name and picture on the front. Most of the books have words on the left hand side of the page in quite large black type with a picture relating to the words, in colour on the right hand side. On the back page of each book is a list of other Mr Men/Little Miss by picture character and when we have finished reading the book my kids like to go to the back page and name all the characters. The books are really good value, I can usually get them new for less than £1 each, sometimes less if I buy more than one at once on Amazon. I have also bought a few from charity shops at around 20p each. I still have some Mr Men books from when I was a child, including, Mr Tickle, Mr Snow and Mr Messy, which are probably my favourites.
These are a classic must have for children under about six years of age. They make great little bedtime stories and are fantastic for getting kids to read. I wouldn't be without our collection of Misters and Little Misses!