Posts tagged ‘judith kerr’


20 May 2009

Then Daddy Came Home

Christopher Tayler on 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Stories should be able to bear more than one interpretation, and Judith Kerr's books have been read in some interesting ways. But how polysemous is The Tiger Who Came to Tea, a picture book about a tiger that turns up one afternoon on a little girl called Sophie's doorstep and consumes all the food and drink in the house? Maybe not enough to justify the theory that the mother is an alcoholic who dreams up the tiger’s visit in order to explain the vanishing of ‘all Daddy’s beer’. If anyone’s an alcoholic or problem drinker in The Tiger Who Came to Tea, it’s the father. It's his beer, after all; perhaps he drinks too much of it because of the stress caused by his work as a pimp (see the illustration ‘And it can't be daddy, because he's got his key’). He might also be violent: the mother’s anxiety when she realises that ‘I’ve got nothing for Daddy’s supper’ – my italics – gives a Frank Booth-in-Blue Velvet-like undertone to ‘Just then Sophie's daddy came home.’