Mr. Men and Little Miss Children's Books Celebrate their 50th Anniversary
This year marks the golden anniversary of the much-loved and nostalgic Mr. Men and Little Miss series of diverse and personality filled characters. To celebrate, the brand are launching two exciting new characters...
We would be very surprised if anyone could show us a child's bookshelf without a Mr. Men or Little Miss title amongst it, especially as we've read the amazing statistic that a third of Brits own a Mr. Men or Little Miss book, with a calculated lifetime sales total of over 250 million books across the UK! These little square paperback books have been a family favourite for 50 years. YES! 50 years! That's right, 2021 sees the golden anniversary of these diverse little characters created by Roger Hargreaves in the seventies.
To celebrate this milestone the publishers are inviting fans to vote for two new Mr. Men and Little Miss' characters from a selection of new diverse faces, to help shape the next 50 years of the brand. Identifying with a multigenerational audience through self expression, colour, simplicity and humour, these two new characters will be joining the already beloved cast of over 90 Mr. Men and Little Miss characters from the fictional town of “Happyland".
Our (50th Anniversary) celebrations will lead with two new characters chosen by our fans joining our family of well-loved characters and we can’t wait to see which two get the winning vote
The original Mr. Men series of children's books was created by English author Roger Hargreaves in 1971, starting with Mr. Tickle, which went on to sell a million copies in just three years. In 1981 this was followed up by an accompanying series of Little Miss books with female lead characters. Each little book introduced us to a different title character and his/her single dominant personality trait to convey a simple moral lesson. With their brightly coloured, boldly drawn magic-marker illustrations they are instantly recognisable. When Roger Hargreaves died in 1988, aged 53, his son, Adam Hargreaves continued the business writing and drawing the Mr. Men and Little Miss books.
>> See our exclusive interview with Author Adam Hargreaves below.
What's really exciting about this 50th Anniversary celebration is that for the first time ever, the general public will be able to decide the next characters that will be turned into classic Mr. Men and Little Miss books. Alastair McHarrie, Sanrio Licensing Director, comments: “The Mr. Men Little Miss 50th Anniversary in 2021 provides an opportunity to reflect on the role the brand has played for many generations of kids and adults across the world. Our celebrations will lead with two new characters chosen by our fans joining our family of well-loved characters and we can’t wait to see which two get the winning vote.”
Adam Hargreaves, son of the original creator adds: “It’s amazing to see people are still connecting to the books after 50 years, they have always been about getting people to relate with the unique characters and identify the different traits of their own personalities, so it’s great to involve the fans and let them help shape the next 50 years of Mr. Men”
Cast your votes for the new Mr.Man and Little Characters
Let's meet the five-strong character line-up of characters to choose from: introducing Mr. Brilliant, Little Miss Brave, Mr. Calm, Little Miss Kind, and Little Miss Energy. The characters each have a new, unique personality, just like you, which one is your favourite?
>> UPDATE: September 2021
Mr. Calm and Little Miss Brave are the winners! The pair will officially join the iconic family as their books hit shelves from September 2nd. A tumultuous year has clearly fed the need for more ‘Calms’ and ‘Braves’ amongst us, as these two were selected above the strong line up of Little Miss Energy, Mr. Brilliant and Little Miss Kind. Read more here >> 50 Ways to celebrate the Mr. Men 50th Anniversary
JUNIOR Meets Adam Hargreaves, author and illustrator of the Mr. Men and Little Miss series of children books
Hello Adam. How would you explain the enduring appeal for Mr. Men Little Miss?
I believe the popularity of the Mr. Men & Little Miss is due to the fact that each of the characters is a personification of a human emotion or trait and so we can all recognise a bit of ourselves in each of them and that is something that will never date. Happy, grumpy and naughty exist in all languages and so they can easily translate into different languages and cultures. Each of the characters is a little bit of us.
How did your father come up with the ideas for each character?
When I was little, I asked my dad one of those impossible questions that children like to challenge their parents with, mine was, ‘what does a tickle look like?’ I think this then set-in motion a chain of thoughts through my dad’s head. If you drew a tickle it could then be turned into a character and he could then write a story about it. And if you could personify a tickle then you could turn any other human trait or emotion into a book.
Happy, grumpy and naughty exist in all languages and so they can easily translate into different languages and cultures. Each of the characters is a little bit of us.
When your father was initially working on the books, what came first – the pictures or the words? Is this the same for yourself?
The character’s name is the first step, as this provides the theme for the story. Then the story, because that may influence the design of the character and without a good, strong, funny story then it doesn’t work anyway. I definitely enjoy illustrating more than writing. Writing involves thinking harder, although we are talking Mr. Men books here, so not that hard! But it is the trickier part because I never know when an idea might occur to me. Compared to illustrating, where it is all planned out and I can just get on with the fun bit. In fact, much of the time I will have already illustrated a page in my head while I’m writing the story.
Who was your dad’s favourite character? And yours? Why?
I’d guess, Mr Silly because my dad created a number of characters along the same theme. My favourite to draw is Mr Bump, but Mr Silly is also my favourite story mainly because he encapsulates my dad’s sense of humour and reminds me of him.
Over the past 50 years, how have the Mr. Men Little Miss characters aged?
They haven’t aged at all, unlike me!
My favourite to draw is Mr Bump, but Mr Silly is also my favourite story mainly because he encapsulates my dad’s sense of humour and reminds me of him.
Is it hard to keep the books relevant to a modern audience?
To be honest I haven’t really tried to modernise the Mr. Men & Little Miss. I’ve tended to follow my dad’s style, so they are still lost in the 1970’s. Particularly in their interior decorating tastes! I still draw an old-fashioned phone when it’s called for, although a few mobile phones have crept in over the years and even the odd computer!
There has been lots of collaborations and merchandise over the years, what one thing would you really like to see for Mr. Men Little Miss?
I’d love to see a new TV series along the lines of the original BBC series, but updated. It was the most popular series we made and best captured the Mr. Men & Little Miss on screen.
With the proliferation of Kindles and iPads, do you worry about children no longer picking up books?
I think they just provide another format for reading the books. The stories don’t change whether they’re on paper or an iPad screen. Not that you’d catch me reading a book on a kindle!
How will Mr. Men Little Miss be celebrating the 50th anniversary milestone?
There’s a huge party planned in Happyland with balloons and fireworks and two cakes, one for all the guests and one for Mr Greedy! Everyone will be there, except for Mr Wrong who is planning something for the following year.
15 things you may not know about Mr. Men and Little Miss
- Founded by the late Roger Hargreaves the series was created in 1971 starting with Mr. Tickle, turning 50 in 2021
- The first Mr. Men book, Mr. Tickle, was rejected by all the big publishers in the UK, before being published by Fabbri Books in 1971. Six more Mr. Men books were published that year.
- Mr. Men were created by Hargreaves, inspired by his son, Adam, who had asked him what a tickle looked like. Hargreaves responded with a round, orange figure with long, bendy arms.
- The first Little Miss book was 'Little Miss Bossy' - first published in 1981.
- Two special Mr. Men stories were created in 1985 'Mr. Nobody' and 'Mr. Christmas'. In 2003 Adam created 'Little Miss Christmas' to accompany 'Mr. Christmas' after this book was rereleased with new illustrations.
- In 2006, to celebrate 35 years of Mr. Men and 25 years of Little Miss, Mr. Birthday and Little Miss Birthday were published.
- In October 2006, Adam Hargreaves created the first Little Miss character based on a real person, Stella McCartney, which he named Little Miss Stella. This was published as an exclusive limited edition of 1,000 copies for use as S/S fashion show invitations.
- Google celebrated the Mr. Men Little Miss 40th Anniversary in 2011 with a set of Google doodles for what would have been Roger’s 76th Birthday.
- A collection of stamps for Royal Mail, celebrating the Mr Men and Little Miss books series was produced in 2016.
- In 2017, Adam Hargreaves launched a new series of books featuring characters from the BBC science fiction series, Doctor Who, with each of the 13 books focusing on a different incarnation of the show's titular character.
- In June 2019 the Little Misses welcome the best-selling girl group of all time to the cast: Little Miss Spice Girls. Based on 4 members of real-life band the Spice Girls as the ultimate icons of Girl Power to mark their 2019 UK stadium tour.
- Currently one Mr. Men and Little Miss book is sold every 2.5 seconds worldwide, and lifetime sales total 250 million books.
- There is a diverse cast of over 90 characters in the Mr. Men and Little Miss series
- Mr. Men Little Miss books are published in 17 languages worldwide and are the number one selling children’s book in France
- If all the books of each series are put together in order the words 'My Mr. Men library' or 'My Little Miss library' can be read across the spines and an illustration of Walter the Worm (Mr. Men) or a flower (Little Miss) can be seen.
REMEMBER TO VOTE:
For the first time ever, Mr. Men Little Miss is inviting fans to choose two new characters to join the iconic family in celebration of its 50th Anniversary later this year. The new characters to discover and choose from are: Mr. Calm, Little Miss Brave, Mr. Brilliant, Little Miss Energy and Little Miss Kind. With a diverse cast of over 90 beloved characters, there’s a Mr. Men Little Miss character (or two!) inside us all.
>> To find out more about the campaign and cast your vote head to: www.mrmen.com. Voting closes on the 31st March 2021.