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I dug out my old copy of The Tiger Who Came to Tea recently to see if it still appealed to the children of today and quite amazingly it did...........I say amazingly as I am proud to announce that this book was first published in 1968 so it's even older than me!!
~ The Story ~
Apologies if I spoil the plot but here goes:
A little girl, Sophie sits down for tea with her Mummy when there's a knock at the door.
Mum wonders who it could be as the milkman and grocery boy have already been (even I can't remember grocery boys!) and Daddy has a key for the door.
So Sophie opens the door and is greeted by a big, furry, stripy tiger. Unperturbed by this and showing no panic or surprise, Mum asks the tiger to join them for tea (wish my Mum had done exciting things like that when I was a little girl!)
They offer him a sandwich and he devours the lot "Owp!"
He then proceeds to eat all of the buns, biscuits and cake until there's nothing left on the table to eat.
Not content with this the tiger drinks all of the milk, tea and tap water................his insatiable appetite drives the tiger to eat everything in the fridge and cupboards, including Daddy's beer, oh dear!!
When the tiger realises that there is nothing left to devour, he thanks Sophie and her Mum for tea and leaves the house.
It is only at this point that the Mum begins to worry that there is nothing in the house for Dad to eat when he gets in, never mind that her and her daughter haven't eaten (little bit of female adult cynicism creeping in on that comment!)
Not only that but Sophie can't have a bath as the tiger had drank all of the tap water, lucky Sophie!!
When Dad arrives home, they tell him what had happened and without any shock or disbelief that a tiger had come to tea he sensibly suggests that they go to a cafe for supper.
The next day Sophie and her Mum go shopping to replenish the food stocks and even buy a tin of tiger food incase he ever comes again.....................but he never did!
~ Illustrations ~
It has to be said that the illustrations are dated but some would say in a quaint way. I have to admit that the young children that I have read this to are so engrossed with the pure fantasy of this book that none have ever commented on the unfashionable clothes or the net shopping bag that Mum carries.
The tiger is depicted as being very large, yet friendly and happy and the sheer awe on Sophie's face when admiring the tiger is brilliantly captured.
Those of you who would prefer clothes less 'late 1960s' should be interested to know that in Feb 2006 a new paperback and CD will be published. In this all of the artwork will be re-originated and a fresh design approach has been adopted.......that's what they promise anyway! I'm looking forward to having a peek at this and drawing my own comparisons.
~ The style & content ~
It is a very simple story and appeals to 3 - 6 year olds.
The comical joy of this delightful book is the ease with which the two main characters accept the tiger as if they are perfectly used to having animals of this kind eating them out of house and home!
I am yet to come across a child who doesn't enjoy the fantasy of this book.
~ Judith Kerr ~ She escaped Nazi Germany in 1932 and ended up in England in 1936 where she went to art school in London.
She has written a range of children's books:
Mog the forgetful cat Mog in the dark Goodbye Mog Mon on fox night Mog and the Vee-Ee-Tee
~ Prices and Types of books ~
Try www.amazon.co.uk for probably the best deals, e.g. Picture Lions publications: ~ paperback used and new from £2.43 ~ hardcover used and new from £5.73
For children who want to recreate the tiger's visit there is a hardback miniature copy of the book, with 1 china teapot, 2 cups and saucers & 1 china milk jug. www.amazon.co.uk price is £7.69 www.play.com price is £8.49
As stated earlier, the idea of a tiger coming to tea appeals to most children. This book may not be for all 'adults' as the dated illustrations may put some off it, but believe me, when children are so engrossed in fantasy, the last thing on their minds is 'fashion'!
The idea of going to a cafe for supper and not a fast-food place like Burger King or McDonalds etc is a strange concept for some of the children I have read this to but it's a good topic for discussion if the question arises as to what a cafe is!
Despite all of this, it's a lovely children's book with a very simple but highly imaginative storyline.