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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Judith Kerr's Creatures - A celebration of her life and work

Judith Kerr's Creatures: A Celebration of the Life and Work of Judith Kerr

A lavishly illustrated retrospective in celebration of the 90th birthday of Judith Kerr, author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea and many other iconic books. Her story begins with the extraordinary events of her early childhood in Berlin, dramatically cut short by the rise of Hitler's Nazi Party in 1933. Judith tells of her family's struggles with language and money, and what it was like to be a German refugee in London during the war. We see her early attempts at drawing and writing; her sketches and work from art school, and her textile designs from her first job. We hear of her life-changing meeting with her future husband, the scriptwriter Nigel Kneale, and her time at the BBC, first as a reader and then as a scriptwriter herself. Judith's career as a children's book writer and illustrator began after she had children, and over forty years on she is still producing classic picture books. She is a rare and wonderful talent and this is a fascinating insight into the person behind the books that have been enjoyed by generations.

When I hear the name Judith Kerr I am transported back to my childhood and some of my favourite books - 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' and 'Mog the Forgetful Cat'  are two of my childhood favourites and, now for my own children both at home and in work - 'The Great Granny Gang' and 'My Henry'. 

This book is a celebration of Judith Kerr's work - both that as an illustrator and as an author - and although there are autobiographical qualities to this book, it is also a fascinating book on the appreciation of art. It also is a true account of how Kerr's artwork and illustrations progress from first sketch to final piece. There are pages from some of her books as well as examples of pages that start from a sketch and progress to the finished page.

This is a book which, although priced at £25, is a beautiful addition to any bookcase and is well worth the price. A book which can be enjoyed by adults, reminiscing about their childhood favourite books, and also look through with their children talking about the different characters from all of Kerr's books. 

I recommend this book to anyone who admires and has enjoyed Judith Kerr's work, whether young or old. I would also recommend it as a great book for appreciators of children's literature or for anyone studying the writing of children's stories or the social history of a childhood spent in Berlin, and their subsequent fleeing from the Nazi Party. It is very informative and gives a good insight into Kerr's life.

Thank you to the publisher, Harper Collins Children's Books, for sending me this beautiful book to review on my blog.

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