Wonderful Creatures

A portrait of Judith Kerr by her daughter Tacy Kneale

The wonderful writer, painter and illustrator Judith Kerr recently turned 90. But you knew that – it was impossible to avoid the celebratory editorial. It was everywhere!

A piece by Michel Rosen entitled ‘My Hero Judith Kerr‘ was a goodie.

And the pictorial tribute by The Guardian that I posted on the Little Lewes Facebook page was one of my favourites. It showed images from her new book, ‘Judith Kerr’s Creatures‘.

I’m adding to the thousands of cheers that this lady, whose pictures always transport me straight back to my childhood, so heartily deserves.

My own boys love The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the stories about Mog. The family scenarios and slightly naïve quality of the illustrations are enduringly charming.

I was at Bags of Books (again!) a couple of weeks ago buying our tickets for the Sarah Dyer event. There, in the Gift Books section, was ‘Judith Kerr’s Creatures’. I had to have a look.

The front cover of this treasure trove of Judith Kerr’s life and work, showing some of her widely-loved characters

Very beautifully, it tells the story of her life and work – starting with how, as a child, she and her family were forced to flee Nazi Germany and live in exile because of her father’s anti-Hitler writing.

Anna at Bags of Books kindly let me take some snaps of the cover and some of my favourite interior spreads. Here they are:

The bio on the inside sleeve of the dust jacket of ‘Judith Kerr’s Creatures’, with an interior page showing an early wedding-themed textile design
A pencil sketch of Kerr’s own children, Tacy and Matthew, upon whom she based Debbie and Nicky Thomas (seen above with their parents)
Mog stuck on a snowy roof. Bother that cat!
The main character from Judith Kerr’s ‘The Crocodile Under the Bed’. Sadly, it was never published. Shame, I am quite taken with him!
The two men who inspired poor old beer-robbed Daddy in ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’. Top is Tom Kneale, Judith Kerr’s husband; bottom is actor Alfie Burke
“It has been an amazingly full and happy life,” says Judith Kerr, on the final page of the book. The illustration is a recent one – of some feisty hoodie-battling grannies and their van!

Once I’ve saved up my pocket money, I’ll be buying it.

I love that Judith Kerr dedicated it to: “the one and a half million Jewish children who didn’t have my luck, and all the pictures they might have painted”.

What a lady.

‘Judith Kerr’s Creatures’ is published by HarperCollins and is available to buy in hardback. It retails at Bags of Books for £25. 

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

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