From the iconic Mr. Tickle to newcomer Molly Mischief, Adam Hargreaves has a knack for creating memorable characters.
Author and illustrator Adam Hargreaves was inspired to create his new character Molly Mischief by memories of his own daughter as a child. In My Perfect Pet, aimed at three to five year olds, Molly brings home animals from the zoo, including an elephant, a giraffe and a polar bear.
“Its about the power of imagination but taking it from a child’s perspective. There is a big chunk of my daughter in her. She has a very strong will.”
Molly wants a big pet, a large pet, a giant pet and then a huge pet and nothing is going to stop her. “I have a lot of ideas. I think they are very good ideas, but not everyone agrees,” she says.
Her elephant squashes her parents’ car, her giraffe crashes through the roof of the house and the polar bear gets too hot in her bedroom, forcing her to take them back to the zoo. Hargreaves idea was to recreate the fantasy world of children, where everything is possible even if it makes no sense.
“I loved the idea of the strength of imagination that children have, that allows them to believe in whatever they are playing. So it was taking that idea and putting it in a book – so Molly could do whatever she wanted to do.”
It is his first book – although as the son of Mr Men and Little Miss creator Roger Hargreaves he has worked as a writer and illustrator for thirty years. In fact the very first Mr Man was his idea. “When I was very little I asked him what a tickle looked like and that started off the idea. Initially he drew a tickle then moved on to other human characteristics and emotions.”
Roger Hargreaves died unexpectedly in 1988 at the age of 53 prompting Adam to take over his business. “My mum inherited the company and I started helping her. But then gradually I became more creatively involved.”
After the family decided to sell the business in 2004, he found himself with more time, returning to painting and toying with the idea of a book of his own.
Like the Mr Men book the illustrations in Molly Mischief have simple lines. “I have been drawing Mr Men books for so long the style has become a part of me. But Molly is much more my style. It is much more realistic.”
Just as the Mr Men books encapsulated his father’s sense of humour, he says Molly Mischief, for which he has a three-book deal with Pavilion, reflects his own sense of fun. “When it comes to writing books, I really want to entertain children. I want them to be amused by the story.”
He is looking forward to meeting pre-school children and their parents at the Book Festival and plans to demonstrate how to draw some of the animals featured in the book.
“I am particularly proud of Molly. I have written more than 100 books but this is the first one I have written under my own name.
Words: Claire Smith
Illustrations: Adam Hargreaves
WHERE & WHEN
Pet Problems with Adam Hargreaves, Bailie Gifford Imagination Lab, 15 August 3.15pm & 16 August 10am
From £5, Tel: 08453735888