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Literature / The Tiger Who Came to Tea

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Let get this tea party started.
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One of the most famous children's picture books ever.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Judith Kerr, and remains one of, if not, her most famous and acclaimed work first published in 1968. One day Sophie is having afternoon tea with her mother when they hear a knock on the door. Wondering who it could possibly be Sophie answers the door and the caller is revealed to be a large tiger. When the Tiger asks if he could come in to have tea with them in the house Sophie and her mum welcome their quest with equal awe of his presence, fear as he starts to eat everything in their house, and warmth as Sophie sees the gentler side of their carnivorous guest.

Soon, when tea is finished and all the food in the house has been emptied the Tiger bids goodbye to Sophie and her mother and politely leaves just before Sophie's father comes in from work. Sophie eagerly tells her father about their day and with no food left the family decide to head out for something to eat.

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That's about it plot-wise.

Since publication the book has become a stable of early childhood reading.

An animated adaptation was produced by Channel 4 in 2019.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea contains examples of:

  • Beige Prose: Only has around roughly 500 words.
  • Big Eater: Well, it is a tiger.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: As a member of the Felidae animal family who is accustomed to English meal times the Tiger does not disappoint.
  • Last Resort Takeout: Sophie's dad decides the family should eat out at a cafe when he arrives home after the Tiger has eaten the house empty and left.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The identity and origins of the talking Tiger are left a mystery.
  • Partially Civilized Animal: With emphasis on the partially, the Tiger is mannerly, plays with with Sophie and does not overstay his welcome while also ransacking the house for food and even drinking tap water straight out of the tap from the sink.
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  • Riddle for the Ages: Who was the Tiger? Where did he come from? Where did he go?
  • Shout-Out: When the family are putting on their coats to go out for something to eat Sophie is seen in a red coat, a subtle reminder of another story about a girl who meets a very hungry carnivorous animal.
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