Peter Sís was born in 1949, in Brno, Czechoslovakia. He 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. Some of his films are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1982, Peter was sent by the Czech government to LA to produce a film for the 1984 Winter Olympics. But the project was canceled when Czechoslovakia 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 various editors of kids' books. In 1984, he moved to New York City to begin his new career.

Having grown up behind the Iron Curtain, this was the first time Peter had ready access to a variety of art supplies.   "There was a shortage of everything (freedom most of all) — and only one kind of paper, one kind of ink, one kind of paint. I was one happy artist when I became an illustrator in the U.S.A. So many materials!"

Right away, was seen as one of the leading artists in the field, thanks to his illustrating Sid Fleischman's The Whipping Boy - the 1986 Newbery winner. Peter and Sid went on to collaborate on dozens more projects.

Peter continued to be successful in his writing and illustrating. He's a five-time winner of the New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year. He's also won the Society of Illustrators' gold and silver medal, the Caldecott Honor, and about a million more awards I don't feel like transcribing.

Also, his editorial illustrations have appeared in Time, Newsweek, Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, and more more more, both in the US and overseas. He has published nearly a thousand drawings in The New York Times Book Review. He has designed many book jackets and posters, including, in 1984, the famous poster for Amadeus. 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 has been known to paint on any surface he can find, including chairs, walls, eggs, boxes, seashells, and hats. His work has been exhibited all over the world.

Peter currently lives in New York City with his wife, Ten-y Lajtha, a documentary-film editor, their daughter, Madeleine, and son, Matej. His children have influenced his choice of media:   "I settled on oil pastels, which I scratched into. That created lots of residue, tiny pieces of paint everywhere. It didn’t matter as long as I was single. It started to matter a bit when I met my wife-to-be and we lived in a loft. It mattered a lot when we had our first baby. It mattered even more when Madeleine began to crawl . . . I had nightmares about her getting into my paint thinner and X-Acto blades. I switched to watercolors, but I still wasn’t sure how safe they were. On the other hand, I found out that baby formula dissolves aquarelle . . . I had to look for a studio outside the house. No more paints at home. I found myself a studio — a little apartment, really — with a kitchen. I have to fix dinner every day at six p.m. Watercolors dry too slowly, but I can dry them in front of the oven, and bake while I’m drying my pictures."

Peter Sis has about 30 books currently in print. Since having kids, he wakes up at 6 am and makes breakfast for his wife every morning.


The 13th Floor: A Ghost Story

The Algonquin Literary Quiz Book

Alphabet Soup


Beach Ball

City Night

Deep Play


The Dragons Are Singing Tonight


Fire Truck

Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus


The Gargoyle on the Roof

The Ghost in the Noonday Sun



Many Waters

The Midnight Horse

Monday's Troll

More Stories to Solve: Fifteen Folktales from Around the World

An Ocean World


The Scarebird

The Senses of Animals: Poems

Ship Ahoy!

Sleep Safe, Little Whale: A Lullaby

A Small Tall Tale from the Far Far North

Starry Messenger: A Book Depecting the Life of a Famous Scientist, Mathematician, Astronomer, Philosopher, Physicist Galileo Galilei

Still More Stories to Solve: Fourteen Folktales from Around the World

Stories to Solve: Folktales from Around the World

The Tale of the Unknown Island

The Three Golden Keys

Three Yellow Dogs

Tibet: Through the Red Box

Trucks Trucks Trucks

Waving: A Counting Book

The Whipping Boy

The Wind Singer (The Wind on Fire)

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