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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

Once an author up and dies on us, it’s the perfect moment to attempt a read of that writer’s best known picture book. So it is that Judith Kerr was the perfect subject to consider for this episode. This is a book that ignores the rather good advice that, “If you’re in a picture book and a tiger says he’s hungry, run the other way.” Kate discovers that this may well be one of the MOST English picture book we’ve ever encountered. She also identifies this tiger as a brat as a cat and you KNOW how Kate feels about brats. Meanwhile, I share my Jeopardy suspicions, my goodness Daddy’s Guinness is gone, and we get to say the phrase “there is nothing Nazi about this tiger.”

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

  • Here is an obituary for Judith Kerr for those of you with an interest in her life.
  • Kate now collects what she calls “sassy suns” when they appear in picture books. The best thus far was spotted in The Little House. This one is a strong contender as well, we’re pleased to say.
  • Girl is sporting some killer tights. How, I ask you, is Kate not charmed by these? I would own ten pairs of them if they came in an adult size.
  • No. Really. What exactly IS “tea”?
  • Kate is not wrong. I do like a good plaid pair of men’s pants. How many of you out there have ever watched The Good Neighbors (called The Good Life in England)? This guy is very Jerry.
  • I was not expecting Kate’s venomous attitude towards the Tiger Food. But she’s not wrong. Whatever is in that tin, it ain’t something you want to see.
  • As Kate says, this final image in the book renders her “confuzzled.” I admit I have to agree with her on this one.
  • Here is the wacky Wikipedia entry I refer to. Clearly this is my favorite found about a children’s author thus far.
  • You may have prayed I was making up this book. Alas. I was not. Clearly picture book parodies for adults are not solely an American idea. The Brits have their own versions.
  • Here is Tell Me a Trudy. A sequel to Tell Me a Mitzi? Why have we never heard of this till now? Apparently it was released in 1977 and you’ll never guess who did the art. Aw, heck. I’ll tell you. Rosemary Wells.
  • A thousand words of praise to Lark for these magnificent gifts. As you might remember from previous episodes, Kate identifies as Slytherin and I identify as Hufflepuff. Thank you, Lark!!!
About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Claire Hazzard says:

    This thread on the meaning of The Tiger Who Came To Tea on the UK parenting site Mumsnet is hilarious:
    Sample comment: ‘wish we had a cafe like that near us. It’s all lattes and sun blush tomatoes these days.’

  2. “Charmed” is just the right word for how I feel about this book (but, like Betsy, I’m susceptible to all things British). I think it feels like a story that a mother and daughter might make up together, imagining who might come join them for tea and what might happen. The storytelling is appropriately childlike — “and he ate this and he ate this and he ate this…” I hadn’t read this before, so thanks for introducing me to it.

  3. I agree that the tiger is not a Nazi. However, don’t you find it interesting that “one of the MOST English picture books we’ve ever encountered” was written by a German Jewish refugee who did not even speak English as her first language? Kerr was young when she arrived in England and she assimilated successfully. Her father, who had been an esteemed critic in Germany, never fully made the transition to a new career. So without trying to force this book into a mold of Holocaust literature, I do want to point out that Kerr claimed that all her work was somewhat autobiographical. As she stated in in 2004, “I think of the business of the Holocaust, and the one and a half million children who didn’t get out, as I got out…I think about them almost every day…” For someone who experienced what Kerr did, I would suggest that everything she wrote was shadowed, in some way, by her loss, and her incredible gratitude at survival. “…because I’ve had such a happy and fulfilled life and they’d have given anything to have had just a few days of it.”

  4. Tell Me a Trudy is not nearly as good as Tell Me a Mitzi!