There’s something uniquely tactile about a Mr Men book. It’s the combination of the square spine, the smooth finish of the cover and the flickability of the pages. And when you pick one up it immediately transports you back in time. Which is highly appropriate in this case, because the books in question are all about Doctor Who...
Dr First, Dr Fourth, Dr Eleventh and Dr Twelfth are the first four in a series of 12 new mash-ups of the sci-fi and children’s characters. And with illustrations by Adam Hargreaves, son of Mr Men creator Roger, they look exactly as they did when I was a kid.
The Doctors are instantly recognisable, too. Dr First – AKA Mr Grumpy – is basically in black and white (a pale lilac colouring keeps him as close to monotone as possible in a children’s book). Dr Fourth has the trademark Fedora, curls and multi-coloured scarf, of course, but even beyond that there’s something about his ebullient demeanour that immediately says Tom Baker. Dr Eleventh is slightly more of a stretch, relying heavily on the Fez and bowtie to identify himself – because drawing a chin like Matt Smith’s on a Mr Man was always going to be a challenge. And Dr Twelfth is basically Peter Capaldi’s face on legs, but yellow.
In a story which sees him chasing arch-foe Missy through time as she uses a Vortex Manipulator to steal the Crown Jewels, Dr Twelfth finds himself without a companion (possibly it's during the period between his two stints with Clara, or while he was grounded on Earth before meeting Bill, but to be honest it's unclear whether these books are actually considered canon). Dr First has granddaughter Susan along for the ride, while Dr Fourth is accompanied by Sarah Jane and Dr Eleventh goes on a perilous adventure with River Song.
I realise neither the Mr Men or the Little Misses generally wear much in the way of clothing – and this observation probably says more about me than the illustrations – but when I look at the pictures of River I can’t help seeing her as glaringly naked. I think it’s something to do with the juxtaposition of those thigh-high boots and all that bare orange skin.
Talking of orange skin, the Zygons are among the classic monsters that turn up, and there’s a nice nod to a certain Dr Tenth... sorry,
Tenth Doctor scene from The Day of the Doctor, when it turns out that (spoiler!) this time, the shape-shifting aliens really have disguised themselves as rabbits.
We also meet Cybermen, Cybermats, Silurians, Weeping Angels and a Dalek called Dale with a malfunctioning energy ray.
The books will be enjoyed by Doctor Who fans of all ages but mums and dads with children who are still too young to watch the TV series might find it particularly hard to resist using them to in-Doctorinate their kids early.
And if you're feeling a bit too Mr Lazy to read them a bedtime story, why not let Michelle Gomez (Missy herself) do the job for you...
The first four Doctor Who Mr Men books are on sale now. Dr Second, Dr Seventh, Dr Eighth and Dr Ninth are published on 22nd August