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Peter Sís - Author and Illustrator

Guest Author - Paula Laurita

Take a trip through the wonderful books of Peter Sís, award winning author, illustrator, and film maker.

It would be easy to think of Sís as a children's book illustrator. His film work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Peter Sís is a man of many talents. He was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1949 and attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. He began his career as a filmmaker and won the Golden Bear Award at the 1980 West Berlin Film Festival for an animated short. He has also won the Grand Prix Toronto and the Cine Golden Eagle Award, and in 1983 collaborated with Bob Dylan on You Got to Serve Somebody.

In 1982 he was sent by the Czech government to Los Angeles to produce a film for the 1984 Winter Olympics. But the film project was canceled when Czechoslovakia and the entire Eastern bloc decided to boycott the Olympics. Ordered by his government to return home, Peter decided to stay in the United States and was granted asylum.

A correspondence with Maurice Sendak led to a meeting and Peter's introduction to children's book editors, and he moved to New York City in 1984 to begin a new career. Sís quickly became one of the leading artists in the field with the publication of the 1986 Newbery Medal Winner, The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleishman.

With more than twenty books to his credit and almost as many honors, Peter is a five-time winner of The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year forRainbow Rhino, Beach Ball, Follow the Dream, Komodo!, andThe Three Golden Keys.

Komodo! and A Small Tall Tale from the Far Far North were each named a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, and he has won a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal for Komodo! and a Silver Medal for The Three Golden Keys. 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.

In addition to writing and illustrating books, Peter's editorial illustrations have appeared in Time, Newsweek, Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, and many other magazines in the United States and abroad. He has published nearly 1,000 drawings in The New York Times Book Review.

He has designed many book jackets and posters, including, in 1984, the famous poster for Milos Forman's Academy Award-winning motion picture Amadeus. More recently, he has completed a mural for the Washington/Baltimore Airport, a poster for the New York City subway system, and a stage set for the Joffrey Ballet. He lends his art to many mediums and will sometimes paint on any surface he can find -- chairs, walls, eggs, boxes, seashells, even hats. His work has been exhibited in Prague, London, Zurich, Hamburg, Los Angeles, and New York in both group and one-man shows.

Peter Sís lives in the New York City area with his wife, Terry Lajtha, a documentary-film editor, and their daughter, Madeleine, and son, Matej.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Paula Laurita. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Paula Laurita. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Christine Sharbrough for details.

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