Children’s Book of the Week: The Tiger Who Came to Tea
The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
What I like about this book:
- The tiger is a lovely mix of polite and rude. Basically, he’s your basic terrible houseguest who doesn’t realize he’s a terrible houseguest. He’s very gracious — “Excuse me, but I’m very hungry. Do you think I could have tea with you?” — and then he proceeds to eat and drink everything in the house, while little Sophie and her mother watch in somewhat stupefied horror. So: a good primer on the fact that even though some guests can be appalling, you are supposed to just grin and bear it until they leave.
- The lovely retro life they lead. A milkman (“This week’s special: Farmhouse Chickens”), a grocery boy on a bicycle.
- That Sophie casually cuddles with the tiger while he’s eating all their stuff.
- The un-PC-ness of the tiger drinking “all Daddy’s beer.”
- Sophie’s mom’s fashion sense. I love everything about what this woman is wearing. Green shirtdress, blue knit cardigan, striped grey tights, blue/grey ballet slippers, hair in a messy bun. When she adds a bright orange mandarin collar jacket and small pink structured handbag I just about die with envy. I would wear the entire outfit tomorrow. Love it. Plus also love her net shopping bag and her awesome wheeled shopping basket.
- The Britishness of it. The tiger comes to tea, first of all, and then eats all the buns (huh?), and all the “packets and tins in the cupboard” (what?).
The only thing I don’t like is the other retro notion that Sophie’s daddy somehow gets dinner all to himself. After the tiger leaves, Sophie’s mom frets that she’s “got nothing for Daddy’s supper.” Don’t Sophie and Mummy get to eat supper? Or do they just fill up on sandwiches, biscuits, and buns at tea? It seems a little odd.
But don’t let that one tiny bit stop you! This book is deliciously charming. I’d want to live in it, if it weren’t for, you know, the giant tiger who comes in and eats all their food (although I do have some fantasies about a tiger eating all the food in our refrigerator, so I’d have to clean it out and start fresh).