Mr Men books get a makeover: Get ready for Mr. Selfie

The long march of the digital revolution has already trampled roughshod over childhood favourites, and now it has come for the Mr Men and Little Miss series of books

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The Independent Online

Back to earth with a Mr Bump

Is nothing sacred? The long march of the digital revolution has already trampled roughshod over childhood favourites such as Bob the Builder and Thunderbirds and now it has come for the Mr Men and Little Miss series of books, which are about to be given a very modern makeover with titles such as Little Miss Overshare and Mr. Selfie

The work of a Thurber prize-winning humorist called Dan Zevin, the books – which precisely copy the look and format of the originals – are being published by Little, Brown and marketed as “the perfect Christmas stocking filler”. In one, Miss Basic is “so super depressed” by being dumped by Mr Douchebag that she “literally beat herself up over it”. But what, I couldn’t help wondering, did Adam Hargreaves, the son of the original creator and part-time Mr Men and Little Miss author himself, make of the parodies?  

Perhaps surprisingly, Hargreaves – who when he isn’t adding to the collection is a landscape painter of some distinction – had heard nothing of Zevin’s work. While a spokesperson for the publishers was quick to point out: “We’ve produced these parodies independently and they aren’t endorsed in any way,” Hargreaves replied to say that he is seeking the advice of the rights owners and, when last I heard, was still waiting to hear back from the Hello Kitty-owning company Sanrio, which acquired the series rights in 2011.

Perhaps Zevin’s “smart, witty overhaul” will not be sharing stocking space with satsumas after all. Might Mr Cease and Desist be popping along to the publisher’s offices soon? 

Word on the street

While there is a growing body of evidence that social media makes us miserable, last week a story was widely shared on Facebook that was incredible enough to restore faith in the power of the global network.

Raimundo Arruda Sobrinho had been homeless for 35 years and living on a small patch of grass in the middle of a road in Sao Paulo, Brazil. One day in 2011, a local woman called Shalla Monteiro was walking past and Sobrinho gave her a poem he had written. Monteiro was moved to set up a Facebook page to make Sobrinho’s poems available to the public and, since then, his work has become so widely known that the poet’s long-lost brother has not only been in touch but has given him a place to live. It is a beautiful, heart-warming story and a short film called The Conditioned is now widely available online. 

But if that story fills you with hope, you should probably know that Sobrinho’s most famous poem begins “Hope is the heaviest weight a man can carry”. 

Sucker punch

There are many ways to tackle online trolls but those looking for a fight might take a leaf out of Chris Eubank Jnr’s book. The son of the former boxing world champion of the same name is also a professional boxer and holds the WBA interim middleweight belt. A little over a week ago, Eubank Jnr celebrated his 26th birthday and among the many good wishes on his Facebook page was a short and pithy piece of racist nonsense that does not deserve to be repeated here. Instead of hitting back at the exceptionally young-looking offender, Eubank Jnr simply wrote this: “I’m used to occasionally seeing comments like this from adults but do ‘kids’ in this day and age really still think like this? I feel sorry for you, Johnny. I hope your mum or dad follow me on Facebook too and see this so they can sit you down and talk some sense into you before it’s too late. You may not see it now but the last thing you want is to grow up with hate for another race in your heart. This mindset will limit and damage your future, trust me.” KO.

Black and blue punk

Last October, I reported here that the website of the “cupcake queen” Martha Stewart had published a piece entitled “Rock on! How to throw a punk rock party.” It was, I suggested, the least punk rock thing ever. 

Turns out I was wrong. Because last week Sunglass Hut, a “principal sponsor” of London Fashion Week, launched its Punk it Up! collection with the following piece of prose, which is not so much purple as beaten black and blue: “The trend ‘punk’ was created from a spirit of rebellions and this meant the start of going against the grain of the status quo …. Although the trend has always been brought forward in a very angst and dark way, we will align a new reinterpretation of punk that will mix angst with elegance, cheap with sophistication and soft with spiky.” 

Even in the light of Stewart’s effort, that shades it.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

Quick, somebody tell the director!

The theme to the spy movie ‘SPECTRE’,

Has started to bore us, 

There isn’t a chorus,

It’s enough to make Bond a defector.

Twitter: @simmyrichman