Childhood classics get a makeover as the Mr. Men grow up
SHEEPISHLY rejoining the gym and starting a diet as part of your 2018 new year resolutions?
Or perhaps you're still cringing at your behaviour (or that of your boss) at the office party – or feeling inadequate as you compare yourself to the seemingly perfect parents next door ahead of a new school term?
Fear not! Help is at hand in the cosily familiar shape of a childhood classic series re-imagined for the adults that we have now become.
Geez, when did that happen, anyway?
The brand was the brainchild of the late Roger Hargreaves whose simple, humorous stories and brightly coloured, boldly drawn characters became a massive worldwide hit, shifting an estimated 85 million copies worldwide since 1971.
The Mr Men and Little Miss titles For Grown-Ups series taps a fruitful trend for brands familiar to generations of children to cash-in on a burgeoning nostalgia market.
Given that longevity, the brand was ripe for a reboot aimed at an adult market – a huge success for similarly successful franchises ranging from Enid Blyton (Five Give Up the Booze; Five Forget Mother's Day) to Ladybird (The Mid-Life Crisis; The Hipster).
The Grown-Ups series kicks off with the seasonally topical Mr Greedy Eats Clean to Get Lean (Egmont £5.99 hardback), which finds our chubby chum going on a diet and hitting the gym after suspecting that his wife may be trying to give him a message.
And so everything from the 5:2 diet to bootcamp to the FitBit craze and gluten-free is given a go by the somewhat reluctant Mr Greedy who in the end discovers that simply finding bigger friends is one great short cut to success. Genius!
Others in the series include Little Miss Busy Surviving Motherhood (Egmont £5.99 hardback), which reveals what happened when our list-making heroine had children.
Through a series of adventures and interactions with other parents, Little Miss Busy learns some useful lessons as she consults her helpful library of advice manuals, such as How Not to ill Your Mother-in-Law (who, inevitably, is Little Miss Splendid).
With a few touchstones that will ring true for parents everywhere, the story winds towards its inevitable tongue-in-cheek lesson learned.
In Mr Happy and the Office Party (Egmont £5.99 hardback), we meet strangely familiar characters such as Mr Nobody (from accounts) and Magic Dave (from sales).
It's access to Little Miss Magic's drawers (because that's where the Hobnobs are to be found, of course) that really puts a smile on the face of Mr Happy.
Anyone ever left exasperated by disappearing office cutlery, milk from the fridge or wandering hands at the office party will find something to smirk at between the covers of this one.
Such a series wouldn't be complete though without a dip into another thoroughly modern phenomenon unthinkable to the children who grew up with the innocent series.
In Little Miss Shy Goes Online Dating (because her mum reckons she doesn't get out enough), we see what happens when you get 'help' from your friends.
Before she knows it, Little Miss Shy is signed up to the dating app Mr Mendr. Little Miss Contrary translates her preferences ('Quiet nights in, whispering and financial independence' to the racier 'Being spontaneous, karaoke and having my drinks bought') with amusing consequences.
The series successful steers clear of the easy cynicism and unnecessarily smutty innuendo favoured by some of the other cash-in series and so cleverly remains relevant (and suitable) for a wider age group.
In uncertain times, perhaps, these lovable characters from more innocent days gone by provide some sort of sub-conscious reassurance.
We await to see whether Brexit inspires more comic capers from the gang.
Hector Mackenzie @HecMackenzie