<h4><center> If you love fire trucks<br> more than anything, <br> this book is for you.<br> </center></h4>
Peter Sis was born in Czechoslovakia and now lives in New York City with his wife and two children. His drawings appear regularly in The New York Times Book Review
and other publications. He is the author-artist of The Three Golden Keys, Komodo!, Follow the Dream,
and A Small, Tall Tale from the Far, Far North.
He has illustrated several books by other authors, including Sid Fleischman and George Shannon.
In His Own Words...
"I was born in the middle of the century and grew up in the magical city of Prague, Czechoslovakia, in the heart of Europe. My father was a filmmaker and explorer, and he brought back many interesting things from his travels to Tibet, Borneo, and other places all over the world.
"From early on, I was encouraged to make pictures by my mother and father, both artists, and by their artist friends. I was not always encouraged at school, where I used to draw little pictures on everything, for everybody, usually in the middle of class.
"I remember with great fondness what I thought of as the largest bookstore imaginable. It was our library at home. My mother's father designed railway stations in Cleveland and Chicago in the 1930s, and my mother lived in the United States as a little girl. When the family returned home, my grandfather brought back with him a great many books, including a collection of all the Sunday cartoons from the Chicago newspapers bound in one large volume. I remember stretching myself over a page, and panel by panel devouring Little Orphan Annie, Mutt and Jeff, Krazy Kat, and the one with the little cable car.
"I went from art school to art school and had some wonderful teachers, especially J. Trnka, who was a famous illustrator and animator. I remember sometimes becoming so involved with a picture that I didn't notice the night was just about over. I would place the picture next to my bed so that I could see it first thing when I awoke. Things changed when my daughter, Madeleine, was born. I began to get up at night to look at the picture and my daughter. Now that my son, Matej, is here, my pictures remain out of the house in the babyproof studio, and I get up at night just to look at the children.
"I was lucky to have Quentin Blake as a tutor at London's Royal College of Art. By that time, I had already become involved with animated films. After my film Heads won a prize in Berlin in 1980, 1 did an animation series for TV in Zurich, Switzerland, and then another film in London. Before I knew it, I found myself working on a film in Los Angeles. But what I really wanted was to draw and paint my own pictures.
"On the advice of a wonderful friend, Josine lanco, I wrote to Maurice Sendak, hardly expecting him to write back. He didn't. He telephoned, first from the East Coast and then from Los Angeles, where he had come to be honored by the American Library Association. By then I had a hazy idea that I should go to the East to meet with children's book publishers.
"To my surprise, Mr. Sendak, after seeing my portfolio, in the last hours of the ALA convention, introduced me to Ava Weiss, Greenwillow's art director. I showed her my work, and she in turn introduced me to Susan Hirschman and Greenwillow. Shortly thereafter I started work on my first book, Bean Boy, by George Shannon. I moved to New York, and here I am, many books and some dozen years later. Before I had Madeleine and Matej, I thought the reason I did my books was to win medals and awards. Now I have received the Caldecott Honor and awards from the Society of Illustrators, the New York Times, the Boston Globe-Horn Book, and many international organizations. And what really matters to me is not awards but what children--and my own children in particular--think of my books. Now I do my books just for them. My children like my books, but they do not really know I am the author. I like it that way...."