Judith Kerr

The Curse of the School Rabbit- and The Tiger Who Came to Tea

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Newark Park is an estate in Gloucestershire managed by the National Trust. The house started life as a Tudor hunting lodge, but was extended and altered by subsequent owners to create the wonderful building which is there today. This summer, it has been the venue for an exhibition (originated by Seven Stories, in partnership with Harper Collins) celebrating last year being the 50th anniversary of ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ by Judith Kerr.

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The Buff Bedroom has been set up with an interactive kitchen for children to explore and use to reenact the story. A benevolent giant tiger sits in one corner, waiting to be cuddled and climbed on- by adults as much as children! Plenty of copies of this lovely story are available for sharing. There is also a trail around the house with cuddly tigers clutching letters in most rooms.

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On the top floor, the Newark exhibition room is dedicated to art work from the book and a film of Judith Kerr talking about ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ and her work. There were high quality facsimiles of Judith Kerr’s original illustrations from the Seven Stories collection on the walls and in a cabinet in the centre of the room. A short film was also playing which included footage of Judith Kerr in her studio. The exhibition is well worth a visit for those who love ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’. Once it leaves Newark Park, the exhibition will visit these locations:

Saturday 7 September – Sunday 3 November 2019 Bateman’s, East Sussex:
Saturday 9 November – Sunday 5 January 2020: Knole, Kent 

2020
Saturday 11 January – Sunday 1 March: Osterley Park, Middlesex
Saturday 7 March – Sunday 29 April: Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan

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‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ was the first book written by Judith Kerr. ‘The Curse of the School Rabbit’ was written by her just before her death in May this year.

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When Miss Bennet’s mother is taken ill, Snowflake, the school rabbit, comes to stay at Tommy’s house. From this point on, everything seems to go wrong and Tommy is sure it is Snowflake’s fault. However, much as Snowflake has caused many problems, the rabbit is also the cause of some unexpected good luck for Tommy and his family.

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Full of warmth and family feeling, ‘The Curse of the School Rabbit’ is a gently humorous story told from the viewpoint of a little boy whose main concern is whether his parents will be able to afford to get him a bike for Christmas. His father - an actor- is ‘resting’ so money is tight and Tommy’s little sister, Angie, who adores Snowflake, seems to Tommy to get away with everything. Judith Kerr has captured Tommy’s voice perfectly as his home is invaded by this annoying rabbit and its ‘curse’- every day incidents are perfectly captured. The illustrations are delightful- black and white pencil sketches offering an old fashioned charm and humour- in fact, I was surprised to find mum had a mobile as the story could easily have been set at an earlier time. ‘The Curse of the School Rabbit’ is a lovely book, perfect for sharing as well as independent reading with a satisfying, happy conclusion.

The Curse of the School Rabbit Judith Kerr

Harper Collins ISBN: 978-0008351847