Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Grownup Market for Mr. Men and Little Miss Books

The other day I was reading Mr. Men books to my sons. As a kid, I collected these books, which included Mr. Happy, Mr. Busy, Mr. Messy, and on the female side, Little Miss Tiny, Little Miss Bossy and Little Miss Sunsine. She was my favorite.

You could tell if your book was old or new based on the number of Mr. Men and Little Miss characters printed on the back cover. At that time, I thought the author, Roger Hargreaves, had covered every personality trait there was. I was surprised that he could come up with new ones.

Now I can think of a few additional characters. In fact, there is a whole market the Hargreaves family is missing: grownups. Mr. Bounce, Mr. Mischief and Mr. Happy are adequate descriptors for children. In fact, I have three Mr. Men who fit those names perfectly right now. But grownups have more nuanced character traits.

The books, as they are written now, show the flawed characters, like Mr. Messy, being changed by the end of the book, and the perfect characters changing others. Wouldn't it be therapeutic to read about that annoying person in your life being rehabilitated by the end of a book? Or to watch an always giddily happy character transform the world with her smile instead of leaving people wondering if she is on drugs?

These are some characters I propose for the series Mr. Men and Little Miss: All Growed Up: Little Miss Holier than Thou. Mr. Takes Credit for Work He Didn't Do. Little Miss Underhanded Compliment (Example: You look great--better than the last time I saw you when you were in that hot dog eating contest. We didn't have to guess who would be the victor that day. You won, right? How did you lose the weight? Are you sick or something?) Mr. Flies Off the Handle for No Apparent Reason.

I'm sure you can all think of your own characters for this series. And it wouldn't just have to be flawed characters. There could be sweet ones like Mr. Who Needs a Hug and Little Miss Remembers Everyone's Birthday. Mr. Surprise! I Made Dinner Tonight and Little Miss Works Her Booty Off.

It turns out some new characters have been created in this series, including, Mr. Good and Little Miss Scary, who sounds interesting. Roger Hargreaves died in 1988, but his son Adam carried on his legacy. These books are so cute that when I looked them up on Amazon, two reviewers said they were the best piece of literature they'd ever read. Based on personal experience, I'd say those reviewers were the author's mother and his mother's alias. But I could be wrong. Personally, I think it's time for Mr. Happy and Little Miss Sunshine to leave Happyland and enter Grownupland.


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