There’s an empty space at the table between a forgetful cat and a Tiger today.
Judith Kerr was very tired and went to sleep forever this morning, leaving a body of work which touched the lives of every child who read them in ways which are difficult to express but were lifelong.
Even a slightly bewildered and dozy cat couldn’t forget her simple tales, and she deserved a medal for helping entire families love books together – and got one, being awarded an OBE in 2012.
As well as creating a brace of daft but harmless felines, Judith worked tirelessly to ensure the world didn’t forget her own experiences as a refugee from Nazi Germany, writing books describing the experience from a child’s perspective, and travelling to speak widely about it.
When Hitler stole Pink Rabbit managed to maintain a childlike simplicity and view of the world whilst describing the effects of flight, confusion and fear in terms that were stark and understandable to junior readers, and may well be the first experience of a wider political world that many readers encounter.
In all of this, her message was always People do die, and you do lose them, but you should get on with your own lives.
“It’s a good thing I drank all the tea in the pot, and all the orange juice, and all of daddy’s beer, and all the water in the tap,” said the Tiger.
“Or I wouldn’t be full enough for all these tears.”