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Member Name: walsha11
The Tiger Who Came to Tea - Judith Kerr
Advantages: Classic story, imaginative, skilfully written, beautiful illustrations
Disadvantages: Sexism, colours not great for dyslexic readers
This is a book I grew up with and now that I am training to be a Primary School teacher it is a picture book I have added to my extensive collection. This is a story I would happily read the classes when I am teaching in school and also something I would share with the children that I nanny for.
The plot of the story really captures the imagination of children and adults alike, with a bright orange tiger coming round for tea with a little girl called Sophie and her Mummy. The concept for the book is instantly fun and magical whilst retaining everyday elements that all children can relate to. The tiger politely asks if he can come in and once welcomed he eats them out of house and home - in fact, he also drinks them out of house and home. The beautiful illustrations really bring to life this simply story whilst the bright colours are eye-catching and exciting for young readers. I love the slightly kitsch element to the pictures (which were first published in 1968) as they give the book a real retro feeling.
Nowadays a lot of picture book illustrators obviously feel the need to bombard children with glitter and pages packed with colour. This book actually works very effectively because of the amount of space which is white. There is a lovely contrast created in this way between the bright colours and the empty areas in the book. I also think the text is kept very simple with equal amounts descriptive and dialogue. The text flows really nicely and the narrative is very clear for younger readers. There are also a mixture of known and challenging words for children who are beginning to read for themselves. The text is big enough and spaced out enough for them to be able to read with ease, I also think the white spaces in the book aid in this as reading black text on bright colours can often be tricky. My only issue with this would be that it might not be ideal for children with dyslexia as many struggle to read black text on a white background - although this can easily be aided by coloured plastic which you lay over the writing.
In terms of appropriate ages for this story I sort of think there are no boundaries. I would read this with very young children (2-4) as they will love the narrative combined with the clever illustrations. I also think this is a great read for children who are beginning to read for themselves (4-7) and a classic story I might share with older children to spark an imaginative story writing class maybe (7+). I also think this is the perfect story for adults to enjoy too, now I realise not many adults love buying themselves children's books like I do but perhaps use children/god children/nieces and nephews as an excuse to indulge!
My only other slight negative would be that due to the age of the book (published in the late 60s) there are some rather outdated gender stereotypes present in the book. I actually think nowadays these seem rather quaint as opposed to offensive so I wouldn't worry too much about children getting the wrong idea. In fact, I would hazard a guess that they wouldn't even notice but it is important to be aware of this anyway.
Overall, I think this is a fabulous classic picture book which sets the standard for modern counterparts.
Summary: I'd invite the tiger over any day!
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