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Peter Sis


"Because I have been in this country for only ten years, I see things much like a ten year old child," said Peter Sis, award winning children's illustrator, filmmaker and author in 1992. Sis grew up in Czechoslovakia and Prague, which he has described as "a little bit scary." "I grew up on a block of grey houses, with sad people, all with ashen faces, and red flags supplying the only colour," he says, explaining why he is so drawn to the use of bright colors in much of his work.

Sis studied filmmaking and painting in Prague and London. He was sent to
the United States in 1982 by the Czech government in order to film the 1984
Olympics, and stayed. Here he began to focus more on his illustration work
but he still views all of his artistic creations as somehow joined,
saying "all my books are sort of films." One of his first jobs in America
was animating a song for Bob Dylan for MTV.

He lives in New York City with his wife Ten-y Lajtha, a documentary-film editor, and their children. Sis credits the birth of his daughter Madeline for causing an important shift in his career. He switched from oil paints to watercolors out of fear that the oil paints would be harmful to his daughter. He now dries his watercolors by the oven as he makes dinner at 6 pm sharp every night. His children inspire many of his illustrations and storylines for his books.

Peter's book Starry Messenger -- Galileo Galilei was a 1997 Caldecott Honor Book, and has been published in English, French, German, Czech, Portuguese, and Greek, with Japanese, Chinese, Swedish, Danish, Korean, and Norwegian editions on the way. He has published nearly 1,000 drawings in The New York Times Book Review. For more information on his accomplishements, please see this article in the Iowa Review:

Other Sites of Interest about Peter Sis:

Mystery Man: Sis is interviewed by two teenagers from Zuzu magazine

Peter Sis's acceptance speech for the Boston GlobeHorn Book Award
Special Citation

Peter Sis discusses his Studio in Horn Book Magazine

Sis talks about getting letters from children in Iowa Live

Peter Sis has Illustrated eggs

Parents' Choice Recommended books by Peter Sis:

Bean Boy (1984 Parents' Choice Silver Honor)
Written By George Shannon, Illustrated by Peter Sis
[This title is currently out of print. Please check your local library or an out of
print book dealer to locate a copy.]

The Whipping Boy (1986 Parents' Choice Silver Honor)
Written By Sid Fleischman, Illustrated by Peter Sis

The Midnight Horse (1990 Parents' Choice Gold Award)
Written By Sid Fleischman, Illustrated by Peter Sis

An Ocean World (1992 Parents' Choice Gold Award).
Written and Illustrated By Peter Sis.
A prologue in the form of a postcard describes a baby whale living at
Ocean World in Florida. She has never seen another whale. We watch her
grow until she is lowered by crane into her natural habitat. Thus begins
a journey told and illustrated only in vivid watercolors.

Komodo! (1993 Parents' Choice Gold Award)
Illustrated By Peter Sis
"I have loved dragons as long as I can remember," says the child who narrates this story. And so his parents take him to visit the real dragons on the island of Komodo in Indonesia. From cover to cover this book brims with dragon patterns, dragon models, dragons real and implied, all done with
pointillistic pen, muted watercolor and true wit.

A Small Tall Tale From Far Far North (1993 Parents' Choice Silver Honor)
Written and Illustrated By Peter Sis

Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus (1996 Parents' Choice Gold Award)
Written and Illustrated By Peter Sis
Ages 6 and up.
Sis renders a phantasmagoric album of marvels evocative of the myth, art, adventure of 15th century Genoa and Spain, and of the oceans and waters of dream.

The 13th Floor: A Ghost Story (1995 Parents' Choice Gold Award)
Written By Sid Fleischman, Illustrated by Peter Sis
Ages 8 and up
Buddy Stebbins sister is missing and amidst his search for her he discovers a 17th century pirate ship. Filled with appealing pirates, unappealing preachers, buried treasure, this is a time-warp adventure that leaves open the question of who exactly are the ghosts in the story.

Sleep Safe, Little Whal
e (1997 Parents' Choice Gold Award)
Written By Miriam Schlein, Illustrated by Peter Sis
Ages 2 and up.
This sweet, lilting text about various animals bedding down for the night
is sure to be a comforting soporific for smallest listeners. Peter Siss
cuddly, cosy (but never saccharine) pictures of watchful animal parents
embracing their offspring complete this perfect voyage to Slumberland.

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