On Children’s Stories


“To write fairy stories for children, to amuse them, to divert restless children, sick children, to keep them out of mischief on rainy days, seems of greater importance than to write grown-up novels. Few of the popular novels last the year out, responding as they do to a certain […] characteristic of the time whereas, a child’s book is, comparatively speaking, always the same, since children are always the same, […] with the same needs to be satisfied.”

Lyman Frank Baum

Mr Clever


‘He met somebody who was also out for a walk.
Do you know who it was?

That’s right.
Mr Happy!
“Hello,” cried Mr Clever. “I’m The Cleverest Person In The World!”
“Oh good,” said Mr Happy. “Then you must be clever enough to make up a really good joke to tell me.”
He laughed.
“Jokes make me happy,” he explained.

Mr Clever’s face fell.
“I don’t know any jokes,” he admitted.
“Well, that’s not very clever of you, is it?” said Mr Happy, and went off.
Mr Clever went on.
And do you know who he met next?

That’s right.
Mr Greedy!
“Hello,” cried Mr Clever. “I’m The Cleverest Person In The World!”
“Oh good,” said Mr Greedy. “Then you can tell me the recipe of the world’s most delicious dish.”
He licked his lips.
“I like food,” he explained.

Mr Clever’s face fell.
“I can’t cook,” he admitted. “And I don’t know ant recipes!”
“Well, that’s not very clever of you, is it?” said Mr Greedy, and went off.
In search of food.
Mr Clever went on.
And do you know who he met next?

Yes
Mr Forgetful!
“Hello,” cried Mr Clever. “I’m The Cleverest Person In The World!”
“Oh good,” said Mr Forgetful. “Then you can tell me what my name is.”
He smiled apologetically.
“I’ve forgotten,” he explained.

Mr Clever’s face fell for the third time that morning.
“But I don’t know your name,” he admitted. “We’ve only just met!”
“Well, that’s not very clever of you, is it?” said Mr Forgetful, and he too went off.
Forgetting to say goodbye!

And so it went on. All day.
Mr Clever couldn’t tell Mr Sneeze the cure for a cold.
And he couldn’t tell Mr Small how he could grow bigger.
And he couldn’t tell Mr Jelly what the secret of being brave was.
And he couldn’t tell Mr Topsy-Turvy how to talk the round way right.
I mean the right way round.
A not very clever day!
Not at all.
Not a bit.’

– Hargreaves. R. (1978) Mr Clever – My Mr Men Library [nr. 37] London, Great Britain: World International Limited p. 18-32