We all know Judith Kerr, OBE as the beloved writer and illustrator who brought us Mog, The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the very moving When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. I already had my suspicions that Ms Kerr has a fondness for all things feline and her latest title has confirmed that. Katinka’s Tail is a heartwarming story about a perfectly ordinary pussycat, with a not-quite-so-ordinary tail. Katinka’s Tail has already been hailed as a classic in the making and I couldn’t agree more.
At the end of this review you’ll be able to enter to win a copy of Mog, The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Katinka’s Tail.
Born in Germany, of Jewish background, Judith came to Britain with her family in 1933 amid the rise of the Nazis. Following the families escape from Germany Judith lived in several European countries before settling in London. Due to this slightly nomadic life Judith attended eleven different schools. Later she worked for the Red Cross during the war and married screenwriter Nigel Kneale, the couple remained in London and had two children. Throughout her exciting careers she’s worked as artist, a BBC television scriptwriter and, of course, as author and illustrator of children’s books. In 2012, Judith was awarded an OBE for her services to children’s literature and Holocaust education, and in 2016 she received the Booktrust Lifetime Achievement Award.
Luisa is almost two and a half, much to my delight she’s starting to show a fraction more patience and a longer attention span. This means we have been able to graduate from exclusively reading board books and enjoy a broader range of stories. Katinka’s Tail is exactly what you’d expect from a Judith Kerr title; it’s subtly profound and leaves a delicate but lasting paw print on your consciousness.
Katinka is a run of the mill cat, a friendly companion who is treasured by her owner, a kindly lady bearing a striking resemblance to Judith Kerr. There is, however, one thing which makes Katinka stand out, her tail is a different colour to her body. I gave a wry smile when I read how people often remarked on Katinka’s tail, as I knew where the author was going with this and I had a sneaky suspicion that there is more to Katinka’s tail that meets the eye.
I really enjoyed the subtlety with which Judith Kerr introduced the idea that our differences are what makes us special, not something which should divide us or be cause to single someone out. The message is conveyed delicately but firmly as the tale progresses, creating a good opportunity for parents to carry on the discussion after the story has come to an end.
As ever the illustrations have a timeless charm which brought me right back to my own childhood. Luisa really enjoys pointing out the various antics Katinka got up to and especially loves the touch of magic towards the end.
Katinka’s Tail is a triumph, I’m confident that this delightful cat will be making her way into the hearts and homes of children all across the world this year. It would be an excellent choice for a Christmas gift and I’m sure we’ll be reading it as a family for many years to come.