The Tiger who came to Tea

The Tiger who Came to Tea is as old as me, published in the the year I was born. Strangely, I never knew the book as a child. It wasn’t until I was a teacher that I first discovered it and then, later, I bought it for my own children. It’s now a book I buy as a gift for new parents or very young children.

Judith Kerr who wrote and illustrated The Tiger who came to Tea, amongst other classics as the Mog books and the child’s-eye memoir When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, is now in her eighties and still working.

Kerr has had an astonishing life, escaping Nazi Germany as a child, where her father was a distinguised writer and had his books burned. She took up writing and illustrating children’s books when her own children were learning to read. (Her son is Matthew Kneale, author of acclaimed English Passengers, so it must have paid off.)  

And now The Tiger who came to Tea has been adapted for the stage by David Wood and is on a countrywide tour.

I hope it keeps the surreal and poignant quality of Kerr’s work.

This got me thinking about my Top Ten Children’s Picture Books. So here they are:

Not Now Bernard by David McKee

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Eric Carle

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

A Balloon for Grandad by Jane Ray and Nigel Gray

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter

So many to choose from … didn’t even mention Tove Jansson’s Moomins or Ezra Jack Keats’ Whistle for Willie or The Paperbag Princess (Munsch/Martchenko) or Angry Arthur (Hiawyn Oram/Satoshi Kitamura) or Rod Campbell’s I went to the Zoo or Owl Babies (Waddell Benson) or LaurenChild…


4 thoughts on “The Tiger who came to Tea

  1. Shame on you, Mrs. Duffy for choosing Brown Bear over the Hungry Caterpillar.

    And no mention of ‘Once There Were Giants’?!

    Where’s ‘Handa’s Surprise’?

    And most magnificently, ‘The Sad Story of Veronica Who Played the Violin: Being an Explanation of Why the Streets are Not Full of Happy Dancing People’ .

    We shall discuss this later……

  2. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit was my favourite childhood book. I must have read it 8 or 9 times – it left a real mark on me and lead to me reading many books about children in wartime, notably Anne Frank’s Diary when I was about 13, and I am David when I was a bit older.

    Typically I forgot the title (I read a book and instantly forget it’s name *The Generation Game, The Generation Game, The Generation Game…!*), and although I’ve thought about the book many times over the years, it was only last week when it was mentioned in the Guardian that the title leapt out at me, and I have ordered it. Can’t wait to read it again, and introduce it to another generation.


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