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Judith Kerr - 1923-2019
July 2016 Judith Kerr wins a Book Trust Lifetime Achievement Award. She received the award at London Zoo, at a ceremony hosted by former Children’s Laureate and BookTrust President, Michael Morpurgo. Judith Kerr said: "I am honoured and delighted that I have been chosen to receive the BookTrust’s Lifetime Achievement Award. I thank them very much, and as the presentation is to be at London Zoo, I’ll also be able to thank the tigers in the tiger enclosure who started it all."
Judith Kerr was born in Berlin in 1923 but escaped from Hitler’s Germany with her parents and brother in 1933 when she was nine years old. Her father was a drama critic and distinguished writer whose books were burned by the Nazis, because he dared to speak out against the regime. The day after the family left Berlin, the authorities came to arrest them, and throughout the war there was a price on her father’s head. Judith and her family passed through Switzerland and France before finally arriving in England in 1936. Judith wrote about her experiences in her classic autobiographical story, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.
Judith won a scholarship to the Central School of Arts in 1945, and since then has worked as an artist, television scriptwriter and, for the past thirty years, as an author and illustrator of children’s books. Judith was married to the scriptwriter Nigel Kneale, who died in 2006, most famous for the hit sciâ€fi series Quatermass. Her son is the writer Matthew Kneale who won the Whitbread Book Award for The English Passengers. Judith lives in south west London.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea was Judith’s first picture book and was published in 1968. She wrote it after telling the story at bedtime to her daughter Tracey and son Matthew. Lady Antonia Fraser was one of the first people to review the book and called it, “a dazzling first book,” that would make children “scream with delicious pleasure at the dangerous naughtiness of the notion.” The book has become a classic and appeared in the Telegraph’s list of top children’s books of all time. It has sold over 5 million copies, and celebrated its 40th Anniversary in October 2008. The Tiger Who Came to Tea was recently made into a stage play written by David Wood and produced by Nick Brooke, which has toured the UK.
Emily Gravett on Judith Kerr:
'I read The Tiger Who Came to Tea when I was a child and loved it. I remember being obsessed with the bit where the tiger came and drank all the water in the tap. I think it was the domesticity of it, that this person was at home and that this could actually happen. It was so matter-of-fact. Nothing really happens but it's still somehow magical.
'Kerr keeps the text very simple, and the illustrations give you clues as to how you should read it. In her Mog books, you can look at Mog's face to see how shocked or dramatic the action is. He is just a funny cat, with a woebegone expression.'
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