Tiger, Mog, Pink Rabbit — and the Family C
I’ve mentioned the exhibition ‘Tiger, Mog, and Pink Rabbit: A Judith Kerr Retrospective‘ in the Summer Hols Survival Guide, and I took my two – 5 and 11 – down to see it last week. We’re big Mog fans in our house – as well as ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea.’ But mostly Mog.
It’s not a huge exhibition. In fact, it’s not a huge museum. The Jewish Museum is in Camden Town, tucked away down a side street, and you could quite easily walk past the door without really knowing that it’s there. Or that it’s got 3 floors of really interesting stuff tucked away.
We started on the top floor, which is completely devoted to ‘Tiger, Mog and Pink Rabbit’ now until mid-October (so don’t wait until half term or it’ll be too late). Great big tiger footprints going up the stairs, which my youngest and I thought were just so sweet – and at which my eldest rolled his eyes in that ‘I’m too cool for this way’ he’s been perfecting this summer.
It’s a brilliant exhibition. Walls lined with original Mog drawings, screens with footage of Kerr talking about the books, that sort of thing. My eldest, despite being oh-so-cool, was soon engrossed in the whole thing and reminiscing about when he was ‘young’ (ha). My youngest and I curled up in the great big cushion-filled kitty basket and read ‘Goodbye, Mog’ (excuse me while I deal with this lump in my throat) and had a lovely time.
There’s a great big tiger, too, and lots of chances to dress up, pretend to make tea, that sort of thing. All good fun if you’re small. And he’s a tiger from when the book was published, too — 35 years ago.
As you round the corner, though, the focus shifts first to the other books around at the time Mog was first published – great nostalgia fodder for those of us of the right age.
Then it’s on to Kerr’s writing for older children that drew on her experience having to flee Germany with her family in the late 1930s. There were even pictures that Kerr had painted as a child, which were very touching given that she was drawing a Germany she was soon going to have to leave.
The rest of the museum was a real surprise. The two floors are filled with all sorts of interesting things about Jewish communities in Britain dating back to the 1200s – and right up to the present day. The museum guides, all volunteers, were about the friendliest you could imagine – and very willing to chat about what you were looking at, what you thought about, and so on. And properly informative, too.
And yes, given the history of Jewish people in Europe, there are bits of the museum that took some explaining to my 5-year-old, but that’s not something to put you off. It was all displayed and chronicled so thoughtfully that I ended up having interesting conversations with both my two – and we all learned something.
Having been just a little bit sceptical about going, my eldest raved about the whole museum – not just the Kerr exhibition – and my youngest loved the Mog bits (especially the basket) as well as the stunning collection of (to quote her) ‘treasure’ in the section devoted to Jewish festivals.
It’s not a museum I would probably ever have thought of going to, but we’re all really glad we did. In fact, Mr C is even a bit jealous that he was at work that day. It’s definitely worth it right now for the Judith Kerr retrospective – but I reckon it’d be a good, off-the-beaten track visit anyway.