Peter Sís

Peter Sís Copyright Palma Fiacco Fotografin

Caldecott Honor Book

Peter Sís is an internationally acclaimed illustrator, author, and filmmaker. He was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. Peter is a seven-time winner of The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, a two-time Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honoree, and has won the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal twice. Peter's books, Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei, Tibet through the Red Box, and The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain were all named Caldecott Honor books by the American Library Association. The Wall was also awarded the Robert F. Sibert Medal.
In addition, Peter Sís is the first children’s book illustrator to win the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. He was chosen to deliver the 2012 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture for the Association for Library Service to Children. Peter won the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award. This award is considered the most prestigious in international children's literature, given biennially by the International Board on Books for Young People.
Peter Sís lives in the New York City area with his wife and children.



  • Madlenka Soccer Star by Peter Sis - Book Trailer

    Madlenka and the whole world play soccer!

  • The Wall by Peter Sis

    Footage from communist Czechoslovakia mixed with images from The Wall by Peter Sis.

  • Peter Sis on his book The Wall--Author Interview

    Listen to this author interview with Peter Sís and hear the acclaimed children's book author discuss his picture book memoir The Wall.

  • Author Peter Sis on NPR

    Listen to author Peter Sis interviewed about his book, The Pilot and the Little Prince on NPR



  • Peter Sís Copyright Palma Fiacco Fotografin

Q & A


Tell us about the character Madlenka—is she imagined or based on reality?

Madlenka is based on my daughter, Madeleine, who is now seventeen years old.

How is Madlenka Soccer Star different from the first Madlenka?

I started to write stories about Madlenka's adventures when my daughter was still young. The first one was about her wiggly tooth when she was just about six years old. In the second, she wanted to get a dog ... then came soccer, music, school, ice cream, Halloween, and there are many, many more. I am just too slow to draw them quickly!

Is Madlenka’s city block based on an actual place?

Our family lived on a block in downtown New York City that looks a lot like the one in the book, between Prince Street, Spring Street, Lafayette Street, and Crosby Street. But really, all city blocks sort of look like that. I noticed that people from all over the world were also living on our block. It was like the United Nations, and everybody knew my daughter. My Madeleine influenced the character Madlenka by being her own little "Madlenka Albright," the first female secretary of state.

What art technique do you use in the Madlenka books?

I begin with pen-and-ink drawings and then add watercolor to complete the pictures. It’s all done by hand. In Madlenka Soccer Star, we used the computer a little bit to help put things together.

Can you tell us a little about your next project?

I do not know if the seventeen-year-old Madeleine will like people calling her "Madlenka" forever. I mean she has to become a serious grown-up person right? But I would like to do some more stories about Madlenka, just to remember the time when I used to be able to carry her around and she believed everything that I said. Perhaps it will be Madlenka celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of Grand Central Station? I also want to do a book about the famous aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Many people do not now that he wrote his celebrated book The Little Prince in New York. Maybe Madlenka will meet the Little Prince? Anything can happen in books . . .



The Tree of Life

Peter Sís; Illustrated by the author

In this brilliant presentation of a revolutionary thinker's life, the picture book becomes an art formAs far as I can judge, I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men...


Goethe's classic, enlivened by Randall Jarrell's fine translation and Peter Sís's dark, dreamy illustrationsRandall Jarrell's translation of Faust is one of his most...


Madlenka's Dog

Peter Sís; Illustrated by the author

"Inspiring memories in the old and imagination in the young, the dog is a noble beast indeed, and Madlenka's Dog's resonant intergenerational connections make it an inspired choice for sharing." --Starred, The Horn Book


Starry Messenger

Peter Sís; Illustrated by the author

"If they had seen what we see, they would have judged as we judge." -- Galileo GalileiIn every age there are courageous people who break with tradition to explore new ideas and challenge...