The Mr. Men books were created by Roger Hargreaves and first appeared in 1971 and have been firm favourites with kids ever since. The characters themselves were very simply drawn, which was part of their appeal, and the books were very easy for young children to read themselves, making them popular with parents too as a way of getting their children interested in reading. The fact that each characters name was a big clue to what their personality would be like meant that kids could easily remember which were their favourites when choosing a book to read.
In 1981 the Mr. Men were joined by a selection of female characters, resulting in the Little Miss range of books. Whilst the Little Miss characters were clearly wholly new characters in their own right, quite a few of them shared traits with an equivalent Mr. Men character. For example, Mr. Small and Little Miss Tiny. In cases such as this I often thought perhaps these characters were siblings or married or something like that!
In total Roger Hargreaves created 43 Mr. Men and 30 Little Miss characters. When Hargreaves died in 1988, his son Adam carried on the series (Hargreaves originally created the stories for his son, inventing Mr. Tickle to explain to his son what a “tickle” looked like). Adam has added new stories for the original characters and also several new characters since then, including some special edition characters such as Mr. Christmas and Mr. Birthday. There was also a Little Miss Stella that was created for Stella McCartney! 1000 of the books were created and were used as invitations to one of Stella McCartney’s fashion shows.
My personal favourite characters are Mr. Tickle, a bright orange ball with incredibly long wobbly arms, the accident prone Mr. Bump, all wrapped in bandages, and Mr. Impossible, who was able to kick a football so high into the sky that it came down covered in snow. Little Miss Naughty is probably the best known of the Little Miss characters and has appeared on many pieces of clothing for both girls and women. I think perhaps in the case of the adult clothes they might be trying to infer a rather different meaning to the characters name to that intended however… 😉
The characters also made their way on to the TV, with the first series produced in 1975. It was narrated by Arthur Lowe from Dad’s Army fame. In 1983 a second series was created including the Little Miss characters, this time narrated by husband and wife team John Alderton and Pauline Collins. A further series was made in 1995, and the most recent series has just begun on Channel five’s Milkshake show in the UK and Cartoon Network in the US.
As well as the books there have of course been a large number of toys and other merchandise created for the Mr. Men. Â TheÂ Milkshake Online Store has a very wide range of both classic and new style Mr. Men and Little Miss, including some rather more expensive but cool looking prints from the books.