Tea Party for a Tiger
The best children's literature plays with surrealism in a way that presents the fantastical as totally natural. This both shapes and confirms the childhood sense that tangible reality -- although important -- isn't really the end of the story: stuffed animals can talk, the wardrobe really might contain an alternate universe, and wouldn't it make sense to discover that the babysitter is actually a friendly alien? As children discover the world both through exploration and through stories, the most memorable books are those that suggest that unexpected things can happen in quotidian situations, and that we should embrace them when we do.
A treasure of this type is Judith Kerr's The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Written in 1968 for an English audience, The Tiger is a charming tale of little Sophie and her mother having their daily tea -- buns, milk, orange juice -- when they are unexpectedly joined by a very hungry tiger. Sophie and her mother welcome the tiger, who manages to eat and drink everything in the house while still being good company. After the tiger leaves, nothing remains behind with which to cook dinner. This problem is solved by Sophie's father, who proposes that the little family go out to a local cafe for a special dinner of sausages and ice cream.
Written in lovely, slightly British language and complemented by homey illustrations showing Sophie and her parents in wonderful late-1960s fashions, the book is still a treat after more than 40 years.