Peter Sis grew up in Czechoslovakia when the country was still a satellite of the Soviet Union. He remembers not having enough paper for drawing and only one kind of ink. Once a teacher caught him sketching in his notebook at school. She made him write over every page. In Czechoslovakia, there was not enough of anything, and drawing in a notebook was considered to be very wasteful. There were other sad things about living behind the Iron Curtain. The government controlled what could be said in public and written in books, especially if what was written criticized the people in charge.
Peter Sis continued to study art, traveling to the Royal College of Art in London. He came to the United States in 1982 and was amazed by what he saw. He wanted to stay and at last became a citizen in 1988. Peter Sis' writing and illustration have won awards throughout the world. He often draws for other writers, but his own books explore ideas that are important to him.
Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei is the story of the man who spoke the truth, that the Earth revolves around the Sun -- that the Earth is not the center of the Universe. Galileo told the truth and was punished for it. But from his honesty came the foundation of modern astronomy and the beginning of a scientific revolution.
When Peter was a little boy, his father was sent to China to film the the building of a military road to Tibet. He did not come home for several years, but when he returned, he was full of stories of the magical land: giant snowmen, fish with human faces, and Potala, the home of the Dalai Lama. Peter heard some of the stories over the years, and when he came back to Prague in 1994 he found a rare treasure. His father had carefully set aside his original journal from the trip in a red box, along with many souvenirs. Tibet Through the Red Box is his father's story, but it is also Peter's, for intertwined with his father's adventures are scenes from his own childhood.
Although Sis has lived in America for some time, he still misses Prague (pronounced Pra-ha in Czech), the city where he grew up. He wrote and illustrated a book, The Three Golden Keys, where a magical balloon trip takes him back home. He discovers that the doors of the house are locked and can only be released with three golden keys. A clever cat leads him through the alleys and into the forgotten and mystical places where each legend he remembers gives him one key to the city. He wrote the book for his daughter, Madeleine, so that she could understand her rich Czech heritage.
Peter Sis lives in New York City, a place whose many cultures he has celebrated in a book for younger readers, Madlenka. He has written and illustrated many books. Click here to see a list of what is owned at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.
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