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This IS me (by schwitters)Default

The Tiger Who Came To London

Last night I saw Judith Kerr speak about her life and works, as part of the Dulwich Festival. I'd seen her give a talk before, but I went along because it was just down the road and she is a wonderful speaker - also, more morbidly, because she's nearly 91.

Much of what she said I knew already - from the previous talk, from the recent BBC documentary, and from her books When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and Judith Kerr's Creatures - but hearing it again was nice, like listening to a familiar bedtime story. It is especially lovely to hear her deny all attempts to read a deeper meaning into her picture books. The Tiger Who Came To Tea represents an unexpected and exciting visitor, because Kerr and her small daughter used to get bored waiting for Daddy to come home from work. The tiger is not the Gestapo, nor was the author inspired to write a series of books about a domestic cat because the Nazis didn't allow Jews to keep pets.

She is such an institution, it's strange to think that without the Nazis she might have been a German writer and illustrator, not an English one. But then, if the Nazis had got their way, she wouldn't have survived to be either.


I wish I could have gone to that. It was only when seeing the recent BBC documentary that I realised Daddy in The Tiger Who Came to Tea is very much Nigel Kneale, and Mummy is of course a portrait of the author.
I didn't know until I read Creatures (which I recommend, BTW) that she had such a famous husband!
to hear her deny all attempts to read a deeper meaning into her picture books

Take that, Michael Rosen!
Ha! He's not the only one; my Children's Writing course tutor reckoned the tiger was a big brother coming home from university and disrupting everything.