Many children and libraries across the world have a dog-eared copy of ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’, a hilarious tale about a gluttonous tiger who gobbles up everything in a little girl’s house. Or, they have a well-loved copy of a book staring Mog, the forgetful tabby cat who has exciting but relatable adventures. Through such stories, children’s book author and illustrator, Judith Kerr delighted and surprised thousands of children.
Judith Kerr, who passed away this month, left behind a legacy of wonderful books, many of which she drew upon her own experience to create. Born in the Weimar Republic, Kerr and her family moved to Britain in March 1933 just after the Nazis took power. She worked as a BBC scriptwriter and began writing children’s books for her own children. ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’ was first published in 1968 and has been reprinted countless times with over a million copies sold.
Her books delve into complex concepts in a way children can relate and connect to. Her Mog the Cat series explores love and loyalty (Mog and Bunny), caring (Mog’s Kittens) and even death (Goodbye, Mog). Her children’s book ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’, fictonialised a part of her childhood and was her way to explain her experiences to her children.
Through sensitivity, simplicity and a prowess over language, Kerr created her books. In an essay entitled ‘Writing With Borrowed Words’, Kerr explained the impact of a multi-lingual childhood, discussing how learning French and English gave her an appreciation for the complexity of language and how writing in English was a way to strengthen her link to her children and her link to her childhood.
Kerr’s last book in the Mog series, ‘Goodbye Mog’ in which Mog the cat passes away was published in 2002. In an interview with The Guardian discussing the book Kerr explained her decision to present Mog’s death saying “I don’t think it was so much about killing off Mog, as rather doing something about dying…I’m coming up to 80…and you begin to think about those who are going to be left – the children, the grandchildren. I just wanted to say: Remember. Remember me. But do get on with your lives.”
Judith Kerr will indeed be remembered, thanks to her legacy of books, which, in their own simple way will continue to ecitie children, encourage them to see the world in new ways and, in her own words. get on with their lives.