Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Welcome to my new blog on children's books. The plan is, every Saturday morning I'll post on a different kids book, whatever we are reading at the moment or whatever has popped through the letter box that week to be hidden away till Christmas. Some may be new but mostly, I like the oldies.

 I only discovered The Tiger Who Came to Tea when my first son hit two or three. Most people have heard of it but maybe some need a reminder. If you are looking for a book for anyone between two and half and five, don't go any further. Kids up to ten or twelve will still lean over your shoulder when you read it, of course. Because it is perfect. (No doubt there is a simply way to rotate this photo, but I can hear a fight breaking out upstairs over Halloween loot, so this will have to do. Bear with me.)

"Once there was a little girl called Sophie, and she was having tea with her mummy, in the kitchen." I don't know, we seem to think our kids are craving excitement and adventure, and yet this first line has resulted in 
silent attentiveness from all my four boisterous boys. And so the day begins, with a ring on the doorbell. Who can it be?

Sophie and her kind Mum welcome the big, fluffy, stripey tiger, because he is hungry and they are after all, having tea themselves. And the quiet adventure begins. Nothing call fill this hungry animal as he politely and methodically eats and drinks them out of house and home. Because they are well mannered (and, dare I say it, English) they stand hesitantly by and let him. It's also because he is such a lovely cuddly tiger too. And then he leaves.

After cleaning up the mess and realising that there is no food left for dinner, Daddy gets  home. One of the nicest pages in this book is when Sophie and her parents go out for dinner. We see through her eyes the streets at night and feel her excitement. It is exciting to head out for an unexpected treat!

We did notice the cat and I suppose it could be hint as to the identity of the real tiger in Sophie's mind, but to my kids that does not matter. I've read this to all of them from the age of about three and what I most often hear when we finish is "Read it again." And we do.

Judith Kerr has written many kids books, another favourite of mine is When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, for ages eight and up, as far as I can remember. She lived in Germany until 1933 so it is based on real experiences. According to her facebook page, her fathers writing was burnt by the Nazis after they left. She grew up in England and her son, Matthew Kneale is a novelist, best known for English Passengers.

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