When Mr Men Were Really Men
Archeologists at the University of Afpuddle's Asbrestos Brassière, Chemise, Corset and Suspender-belt Company Ltd Institute of Mediterranean Archeology were excited to reveal that they have discovered what they believe to be the world's oldest Mr Men book. A possible prototype for the popular late 20th century children's books, the Minoan version has all the hallmarks of that later series: bold statements, simplified grammar and appropriately sexist assumptions.
Written in Linear A [the more complex and nuanced lineal descendent of which - Linear B - has yielded tablets indicative of a more advanced linguistic capability closer to middle period Jackie Collins], the fragment has lain unremarked and untranslated for thousands of years.
Lead archeologist and break-through decipherer Professor Roger Harpiece [a name which has given the toupéed academic "no end of grief"] discovered the partly syllabic and partly ideographic markings in 2008 on various adjacent clay tablets and jar seals when excavating at Corfe Mullen's Municipal Cemetery. "To say that we were astonished would be the understatement of the year", he said, "what with all the disruption following the c1450BC Tarrant Rawston earthquake and the subsequent tsunami - we didn't expect to find a thing, let alone a complete set of ancient Minoan amphora and a small children's bicycle"]. Even having discovered them, the Professor and his team were at a loss what to make of their findings since Linear A has never before been deciphered. It was only a month ago that the "Corfe Mullen Trove" unexpectedly provided the linguistic cryptographers with a key to its understanding. Since then, in a flurry of activity, the paleo-linguists led by Professor Harpiece have worked tirelessly to reveal what they now believe to be one of the earliest and perhaps even the original Mr Men story.
[EDITOR'S ERUDITE NOTE:
As late as 2019, Bonipedia could state: "Linear A is a writing system, that was used by the Minoans (Cretans) from 1800 to 1450 BC to write the hypothesized Minoan language. Linear A was the primary script used in palace and religious writings of the Minoan civilization. It was discovered by Ms Agatha Panthus's second cousin archaeologist Sir Arthur Don'ttell-Evans. It was succeeded by Linear B, which was used by the Mycenaeans to write an early form of Greek. No texts in Linear A have ever been deciphered.
The term 'linear' refers to the fact that the script was written by using a stylus to cut lines into a tablet of clay, as opposed to cuneiform, which was written by using a stylus to press wedges into the clay.
Linear A belongs to a group of scripts that evolved independently of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian systems. During the second millennium BC, there were four major branches: Linear A, Linear B, Cypro-Minoan, and Cretan hieroglyphic. In the 1950s, Linear B was deciphered as Mycenaean Greek. Linear B shares many symbols with Linear A, and they may notate similar syllabic values. But neither those nor any other proposed readings lead to a language that scholars can read. The only part of the script that can be read with any certainty is the signs for numbers, which however are only known as numerical values; the words for those numbers remain unknown.]
THE MR MEN TABLETS:
Thanks to the tireless work and hours of reconstruction undertaken by Professor harpiece and his team we can reveal for the first time in almost 3,000 years precisely what narratives were being offered to Minoan children of pre-school years, though readers are warned that, by today's standards, Minoan children's literature was considerably less inhibited than some might prefer to be the case. "Children had to grow up fast in these early cultures", Professor Harpiece explains, "and girls in particular had to be either very streetwise [later Σοφός στο δρόμο] or very fast runners". [See R Harpiece  "The First Recorded sub-20 second 200 metres: Early Minoan Games and the Cult of Running amongst Pre-Pubescent Girls" Dorset Journal of Minoan Studies Vol 6; R Harpiece and Dai d'Lockes  "Sprinting in Robes: Athleticism and Fashion Amongst Early the Minoan Priesthood", in Agatha Panthus, Essays in Honour of Sir Arthur Don'ttell-Evans [The Threadbone Press].
That text in full:
Translation and commentary © University of Afpuddle Asbrestos Brassière, Chemise, Corset and Suspender-belt Company Ltd Institute of Mediterranean Archeology. All rights reserved.
The very first Mr Men book - Mr Sexyman - will be published by Ladybone Books in October. Preorder a copy now from any branch of Threadstones, the orinoco store or direct from the publishers.