Illustrator of the Year
Winner: Illustrator of the Year
What do you give the nonagenarian who has everything? Industry recognition. Ninety-five-year-old Judith Kerr is The British Book Awards’ Illustrator of the Year, following in the pen-strokes of Axel Scheffler.
Kerr's first book is also her most famous: The Tiger Who Came to Tea began as a bedtime story for her daughter; first published in 1968, it has sold more than five million copies. She wrote and illustrated the success- ful Mog series (revived in 2017 with Katinka's Tail), and her semi- autobiographical Out of the Hitler Time trilogy, which includes the classic novel When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.
Like Scheffler, Kerr is an emigré. She grew up in Berlin, but in 1933 her family fled the Nazis, arriving in London in 1936. She has always drawn, and says she “can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to draw”. Among the few possessions packed when she left Germany were some of her early drawings.
Kerr still works every day; she has a unique and expressive style, with an eye for colour and movement, and a sense of humour is appar- ent in all her work. Judith started her books working with inks and pen- cils, but has moved on to mostly coloured crayons and pencils; layering the colours until she is happy with the effect. She illustrates her fiction in pencil, in black and white. She creates her books with the reader in mind, taking care to ensure they are interesting and useful for those learning to read, or learning about her life and the war she lived through.
Last year was The Tiger Who Came to Tea’s 50th anniversary, with her publisher HarperCollins celebrating this golden occasion with a range of commemorative editions, and the publication of The Tiger Who Came to Tea Party Book. Events and promotional activity ran through- out the year, including the celebration of Kerr’s birthday at The Savoy hotel, and the publication of her latest book, Mummy Time.