Peter Sis, was the honored guest at the Children's Book Guild of Washington, D.C.'s Nonfiction Award ceremony yesterday. (Saturday, April 21) where he was given an award for the body of his work. Click on the links for more information about him and about this award.
(This just in: Peter Sís is also the new winner of the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award!)
Peter Sís was born in Czechoslovakia and began his career as a filmmaker. Sent to Los Angeles to produce a film for the 1984 Winter Olympics, he was then ordered to come home by the Czech government when the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries boycotted the Olympics. Sís chose to stay in the United States and was granted asylum. He began a correspondence with Maurice Sendak and ultimately began a new career illustrating and writing children’s books.
My job at this event was to oversee the tables displaying some of the books the Children's Book Guild Members have had published, with the wonderful help of two other Book Guild Members -- Rebecca Jones and Liane Rosenbatt., which meant that we got to talk to the audience about the many terrific books on display while they were in line to get their copies of Peter Sis's books signed.
Peter, being an illustrator, took a long time to sign because he also drew little sketches to match whatever that particular book was about. (We authors simply sign our names and sometimes include a short message. But I like the idea of adding an illustration, so whenever I can find a stamp that goes along with a book, I use that. -A cute foot for Busy Toes. -A stamp of a child's hand for Busy Fingers.)
The food at the award luncheon was delicious, as usual. The Pier One restaurant at the Chanel Inn always serves the best food! I went back to get another slice of the bread pudding, but every slice of it was GONE!
Peter began his speech by talking about his newest book, The conference of Birds, which is based on a Sufi poem. It turns out that he's also well known for having his art plastered on New York Subway trains and now a mural from this book will be put all over the ceiling of one. (For Baltimore fans, he also did the mural that was in the children's play area at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport, which since has been moved elsewhere in the building when they renovated.)
The remainder of his talk became a visual biography of him and his work. Although he mentioned that his children had TOLD him not go make jokes --Please Dad, no jokes -- he had us laughing often at his comments. Around the room I could see several Middle and High Schoolers, which made me regret the fact that I hadn't brought my own middleschooler who loves art and well-illustrated books. (But since I was running the Member's Books Table, I wasn't sure she would enjoy being at the event for that many hours.)
All in all it was a wonderful day with a wonderful speaker and I made it back home to north of Baltimore long before the rains hit. (Hurrah!) -wo