Exhibition of Children’s Book Author/Illustrator Peter Sís at NY’s Czech Center

Courtesy of Peter Sís

Illustration from The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís.

The name Peter Sís will be recognizable to anyone who has had an interest in children’s literature during the past three decades. His numerous awards in this area include two Ragazzi Awards from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, three Caldecott Honors, and eight appearances on the New York Times Book Review’s Best Illustrated Book of the Year list. The Prague-born author/illustrator, who emigrated to the United States in 1982, was the first children’s book artist to be named a MacArthur Fellow, and in 2012 he won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his lifetime work.

Courtesy of Peter Sís

Now through November 19, New York’s Czech Center is hosting an exhibition based on his autobiographical picture book, The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain (2007), which won the 2008 Boston Globe – Horn Book Award for nonfiction. Peter Sís—The Wall features original drawings, photographs, documents, artifacts, and ephemera that tell the story of the artist’s childhood in Cold War-era Prague. Of the book, Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, once wrote, “Peter Sís’s book is most of all about the will to live one’s life in freedom and should be required reading for all those who take their freedom for granted.”

Curated by Joachim Dvořák and Michaela Šilpochová, the exhibition relays a powerful account of Sís’s personal experiences during a tumultuous time in history and explores how he turned that into a book for children.