Doctor Who/Mr. Men
Author/Illustrator: Adam Hargreaves
Publisher: Puffin Books
Released: 25th April
You probably saw the covers for these a while back. It is a mash up of two British childhood icons and the Hargreaves characters used to represent each Doctor were well chosen. Now Puffin have published 4 books created by the son of Roger Hargreaves. These Doctor Who/Mr. Men books feature Dr. First, Dr. Fourth, Dr. Eleventh and Dr. Twelfth and are charming little oddities.
It can be hard to know exactly where to pitch something like this and Adam Hargreaves gets it about as spot on as possible. Of the four Dr. First feels the most like a Mr. Men book with a grumpy Doctor trying to fix the TARDIS, having to look for Susan who has wandered off and bumping into a group of Cybermen. Of all the monsters that appear in these books perhaps it is unsurprising that the Cybermen translate best to the Mr. Men style. Perhaps they should be called Mr. Cybermen?
Dr. Fourth sees the Doctor and Sarah-Jane running away from Daleks. If you ever wanted to know how the Daleks feels about kittens, ice cream and tennis this is the book for you. The highlight of this book is the creation of a rather forlorn looking Dalek called Dale who has an under-performing death ray. I would happily see Dale crop up in some capacity in the actual show.
Dr. Eleventh is the story of the Doctor and River retracing the steps of a dangerous adventure they have just had because the Doctor has a nagging doubt that he has left something behind. Dr. Twelfth has the Doctor being constantly frustrated by being just behind Missy until he finally gets the upper hand in an ending that is so very Capaldi.
In theory you could add these into a regular collection or Mr. Men books and they wouldn’t be out of place. Though the target age for those books might struggle to get their heads around the concept of exterminating without an explanation. While they are all very well executed it is a little difficult to see who these books are actually for. For adults they are a nice nostalgic joke but now that I have read them I don’t know if I am going to be in a hurry to read them again. Not having children I am not in a position to comment on whether they would be an effective way of getting small children into Doctor Who at an early age.
While the covers were fun when I first saw them it is hard to shake the feeling that making actual books feels like a needless step too far. That isn’t to say that these are bad, far from it, they are very well observed tributes to both sources. I know that there are fans who will rush out to get both these and the subsequent books that Puffin say will be released in August. These are well made novelty items and if that is something that you enjoy as a fan then these are definitely for you. While I may be a little cynical about them I can’t deny there was a little burst of nostalgic joy when I first opened the envelope they came in. That feeling is probably a more important measure of their value than anything else I could say.