In a nostalgia fueled resurgence, these two books bring back the emotion based characters from the Mr. Men and Little Miss series. The series teaches kids about people based adjectives by using characters who are each named after a particular descriptor from Mr. Messy to Little Miss Helpful. These two focus on some of the more abstractly named characters: Mr. Bump, the clumsy, bad luck magnet, and Little Miss Sunshine, the ever cheerful optimist.
In Lights, Camera, Bump!, Mr. Bump is sucked into his television and subjected to the worst scrapes TV has to offer from getting bitten by a shark on a Survivor-like show to getting set on fire on a cooking show. These pieces are great for grownups who may be reading along with nods to many contemporary shows. The flow was smooth, with a cohesive structure for all these mini episodes, complete with commercial interruptions.
Here Comes the Sun, on the other hand, starts with a cohesive structure to tell Little Miss Sunshine’s vignettes, but then it digresses into disjointed mini stories. The characterization is fascinating with true-to-life reactions to some of Sunshine’s antics. This sickly sweet optimist can be a little much, and the other characters are not always amused by her. Miss Scary is completely displeased when Little Miss Sunshine reminds Mr. Nervous that her haunted house is just pretend.
The books are cute, but sometimes I was waiting for a clever punch line that never came. Mr. Scatterbrain’s three page song that concludes with “Me is the Hamster” just felt weird to me. The dialogue also had fairly complex language that made me nervous about its accessibility to the younger readers that would most appreciate the characters and humor.
I should add that this series is 100% kid based humor. Mr. Bump’s exclamation “poopity poop” probably doesn’t seem clever, but to a second grader, this is comedic gold. There’s a subtle lesson when the repeated “poots” of passing gas all come from Mr. Rude. Yes, there is valuable fart humor throughout both books.
The depiction of the characters comes straight from the 1980’s drawings, but the backgrounds have been given an extra shot of color and more detail than the originals. They set the mood of each scene from dark backgrounds in a judge’s chambers to a bright sunny garden. The colors are very kid friendly with super bright, eye catching scenes. Facial expressions are comedic and cartoony, and the over-the-top characters will be a hit with the young folks. However, these books feel like they are aimed at a slightly older audience than the ones I remember from when I was three.
VIZ Media, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages