Once, a long time ago, I wrote my dissertation on the subject of children’s literature and how it portrays the second world war. The books I chose were of novel length, from a British perspective and overtly about war. I wrote about my favourites, the ones to which, even now, I still return.
I didn’t write about When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (Judith Kerr) for the simple fact that in the limited words I had for discussion, I could only focus on one way of comparing the books, and I chose to write about novels that portrayed everyday, ordinary experiences of the war, in Britain, on the Home Front. (I didn’t write about The Machine Gunners (Robert Westall) either for that reason; both are excellent books though if you are looking for books on that subject.)
I didn’t write about picture books either. The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Judith Kerr) is an old favourite of mine, and now of Pip’s. I hadn’t though, put two and two together to associate the picture book with the longer length novel; that the two might be connected. I’ve long suspected that there is more to the picture book than a simple story; I’ve speculated with Marto about what the tiger represented, so I was fascinated to read a suggestion that the tiger might represent something entirely more sinister from Kerr’s past – something along the lines of the content of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. It all started to make sense when I read the interview with Kerr, and the programme scheduling for a programme being shown on BBC1 tonight at 10.35pm called Hitler, The Tiger and Me. Intriguing; I look forward to watching.
(artwork from the book, by Judith Kerr, via the BBC)