Saturday 20 March 2021

Mr Tickle

Mr Tickle by Roger Hargreaves (Penguin Random House) HB RRP $16.99 ISBN 781761042157

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Fifty years after it was published in the small square format and introducing the Mr Men series to the world, Hargreave’s Mr Tickle is republished here in a larger format featuring a bonus new story about how the series began.

In 1971, eight-year-old Adam Hargeaves asked his father the impossible question, ‘What does a tickle look like?’ After much consideration, his dad wrote and illustrated Mr Tickle. Now there are 84 classic stories and many more books featuring children’s favourite characters and fictional lands.

This book tells the above story, telling how Hargreaves senior went on a long walk, then, returning home, started drawing. Mr Tickle had a roundish orange body with super-long arms (that stretched and stretched) and short, stubby legs. The story begins with Mr Tickle waking in bed feeling very hungry so he uses his stretchy arms to retrieve a biscuit from the kitchen and munches it in bed. After breakfast he leaves home in search of someone to tickle. His first stop is a school where there’s a teacher he tickles, again using his super-long arms to amuse the students. (‘There was terrible pandemonium’). Next, Mr Tickle goes into town and continues tickling people he meets along the way.

Each simple, bold illustration is super-large with thick lines and mostly primary colours showing Mr Tickle in his blue hat meeting people (like the teacher and a policeman). One of the pictures – which is sure to make a small child laugh -- shows a greengrocer’s legs sticking out of a pile of green apples. Mr Tickle tickles authority figures as well as the doctor and butcher. ‘He even tickled old Mr Stamp the postman, who dropped all his letters in a puddle.’

The story of Mr Tickle is simply told with appealing illustrations and is sure to appeal to readers aged three and up.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the book, the brand has invited consumers to vote for two characters, to shape the next 50 years of the brand.

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