The Tiger Who Came to Tea

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The Tiger Who Came to Tea
The Tiger who came to tea.jpg
Front cover
AuthorJudith Kerr
Published1968 (1968)

The Tiger Who Came to Tea is a short children's story, first published in 1968, written and illustrated by Judith Kerr. The book concerns a girl called Sophie, her mother, and an anthropomorphised tiger who interrupts their afternoon tea. The book remains extremely popular[1] more than fifty years after it was first published, and a theatrical adaptation of the story has been produced.

The original artwork for the book is held by Seven Stories, a children's literature centre in the UK.


A little girl named Sophie is having tea with her mother in their kitchen. Soon they are joined for tea by a tiger who drinks all the tea, eats all the food in the house and drinks everything, even draining the water from the taps. Then he leaves. Sophie's father comes home and suggests that they all go out and have a lovely meal in a cafe. The following day Sophie and her mother go out to buy some more food, including a big tin of tiger food. But the tiger never returns.


Kerr spent her early years in Berlin just before the start of the Third Reich and her father was on a death list because of his opposition to the Nazis. Michael Rosen, also a children's author, claims the tiger could be based on her memory of the past threat: something that could have disrupted her life as a young child and taken everything the family owned.

Judith knows about dangerous people who come to your house and take people away. She was told as a young child that her father could be grabbed at any moment by either the Gestapo or the SS - he was in great danger. So I don't know whether Judith did it consciously or not - I wouldn't want to go there - but the point is he's a jokey tiger, but he is a tiger. (Michael Rosen) [2]

However, Kerr has stated more than once that the tiger represents nothing more than a tiger, and had nothing to do with the Nazis.[3] Kerr first invented the story after visiting a zoo with her three-year-old daughter and told it many times before making it into a book.[4] The book took a year to write and illustrate. The Tiger Who Came to Tea is one of the best selling children's books of all time.[5]

Foreign language editions[edit]

This book has been produced in Braille. It is also published in German with the title Ein Tiger kommt zum Tee. It has been adapted into Welsh, entitled Y Teigr a Ddaeth i De. In this version, the little girl is renamed Catrin. There is also a Japanese edition "おちゃのじかんにきたとら" (Ocha no Jikan ni Kita Tora).

Theatre adaptation[edit]

The book has been adapted for stage with music by David Wood. The original production featured the actors Devon Black, Alan Atkins and Abbey Norman.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Guest, Katy (6 September 2009). "Judith Kerr: If Carlsberg made grannies..." The Independent. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  2. ^ Judith Kerr and the story behind The Tiger Who Came To Tea
  3. ^
  4. ^ Eves, Sue (2008-06-09). "Judith Kerr and the Tiger Who Came to Tea". Retrieved 2009-02-24.
  5. ^ "The Tiger Who Came to Tea". BBC. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
  6. ^ "The Tiger Who Came to Tea". The Stage. Retrieved 16 February 2010.

External links[edit]