To mark the launch of an illustrated autobiography from Judith Kerr, the creator of ‘The Tiger who Came to Tea’ and a string of titles about an unusually personable cat called Mog, the Illustration Cupboard gallery is holding a week-long exhibition. It features original artwork by the celebrated children’s author/illustrator, on loan from Seven Stories, the national centre for children’s books in Newcastle, where the 90-year-old Kerr’s archive is held.
There’s a limited-edition silkscreen print from ‘The Tiger who came to Tea’ on sale, which at £495 is squarely aimed at collectors. But there’s also a chance for fans to meet Kerr at an after-hours reception. Entrance to that is free and families are welcome. At An Evening with Judith Kerr on Thursday July 11 (5.30-8pm) refreshments will be served (unless that pesky tiger drinks the place dry before anyone arrives) and signed copies of ‘Judith Kerr’s Creatures: a Celebration of her Life and Work’ will be available to buy (£25).
The most enduring children’s picture books are often the work of someone whose talents encompass both words and visuals. Kerr is one of these and her stories stand up to endless rereading, her phrases becoming part of the vocabulary of the families who grow up with them. The three novels she based on her experience as a refugee in World War II, of which ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ is the best known, are equally accomplished. Published just after her ninetieth birthday, Kerr’s autobiography features photographs, memorabilia, gorgeous paintings and the layouts of some of her most iconic picture books. Some of her earliest drawings are included. They were preserved by Kerr’s mother as the family fled Germany, where her father, a writer, was an outspoken critic of the Nazis. ‘Judith Kerr’s Creatures’ is a fascinating read, funny and affecting, written with the directness and humour that characterises all her work.