Have you ever wanted to step into the world of a book you love? This fall, people in Great Britain will be able to enjoy refreshments in the famous yellow kitchen from The Tiger Who Came to Tea, one of the country’s most popular picture books—as beloved as Goodnight Moon is in America. Imagine if you could sleep over in the Great Green Room—for British kids, that’s what having tea in the tiger’s kitchen will be like.
It’s not really the tiger’s kitchen. The book begins with a human girl named Sophie and her mom sitting down for tea. (It’s true that British people like to drink tea, but late-afternoon teatime is really an excuse to eat cookies, muffins, little sandwiches, berries, and other treats.) Suddenly, the doorbell rings. Sophie goes to see who it is and—true, the book’s title is a spoiler—it turns out to be a tiger who knows how to sit properly at a kitchen table and say all the right things that people say at tea. Unfortunately, he still has a normal tiger’s appetite and ends up eating all the teatime treats, drinking all the tea, and eating and drinking everything else in the kitchen, including that night’s supper and—ahem—“daddy’s beer.”
Finally full, the tiger says, “Thank you for my nice tea. I think I’d better go now.” And he does. As an uninvited guest with whiskers and a tail, he’s like a more polite Cat in the Hat, though unlike the Cat he doesn’t clean up after himself, leaving the messy kitchen to Sophie and her mom. No one seems too upset. Dad comes home from work, the family goes out to a café for dinner, and the next day they buy a big tin of tiger food in case their new striped acquaintance comes to tea again. Does he? You’ll have to read it yourself.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea was first published in 1968. (Readers interested in fashion will appreciate Sophie’s mod checkered tights.) The author-illustrator was Judith Kerr, who based the book’s kitchen on her real-life kitchen, with its yellow laminated cabinets and countertops, which she had installed in her London home after she and her family moved there, in 1962. Kerr died two years ago, at the age of 95, and in all that time she never changed the kitchen. “She hated extravagance for its own sake,” her son recently told The Times of London. “If it still worked, she kept it.” She was as practical about appliances and such as her characters are about tigers.
Kerr’s house was recently sold, but not before her kitchen was taken out intact and donated to Britain’s National Centre for Children’s Books, a museum and archive that’s also known as Seven Stories. (It’s located in Newcastle upon Tyne, in northern England.) The kitchen will open for tea this fall, though visitors will have to show un-tiger-like restraint amid Kerr’s cupboards and counters. “We won’t have people clambering over them,” the museum’s collections director told The Times, “but we will give them somewhere to sit and have their tea and cookies.”
Often while taxiing on the tarmac I find myself wondering whether the 747 I’m buckled within is capable of cutting a left off the runway, barreling through the chain-link fence, and cruising off down the freeway like any old car out there on the blacktop. Ostensibly it could, right? Am I the only one who’s thought this?
Apparently, it could—and I’m not the only one.
Back in 2005, Dan Harris and Frank DeAngelo, designers with a background in manufacturing eccentric custom limousines, got the idea to create just that: an airplane that can hit the streets without fear of the National Guard blockading the interstate. (There’s this thing called “street legal,” which a 747 is not, sadly.) Some 40,000 hours and about a million dollars later came the Limo-Jet, which is exactly what it sounds like: part limo, part jet. And it’s street-legal to boot.
The Limo-Jet is mostly a limousine—it can’t fly anymore—but it began its life in the skies. Starting with the fuselage of an old Learjet, Harris and DeAngelo clipped its wings, gutted its turbines, and filled it with enough lights, flat-screen inches, and speaker wattage to rattle the glitziest of nightclubs. The Limo-Jet was finally unveiled in 2018.
At 42 feet long and 18 seats strong, the Limo-Jet is a fearsome beast of fun. It was also a ferocious animal to revitalize—a steel frame had to be custom-designed to support the weight of the fuselage (it is an entire airplane, after all), and a matching suspension, drivetrain, and electrical system had to be developed from scratch. From there the designers incorporated a slew of further customized parts, along with Frankensteining components from cars and trucks, to bring the project to glorious fruition.
Call it brilliant or call it just plain dumb, but, kids, the Limo-Jet can be yours next month when it hits the block at the Indy 2021 car auctions. Ask your parents!