Meet Author/Illustrator Peter Sis

A new book by a favorite author or illustrator is always cause for rejoicing. This time I am celebrating the publication of a new book by Peter Sis. Robinson, shown above, blends the story of Robinson Crusoe with a true adventure from Sis’s childhood and was described in Horn Book Magazine as a “visually stunning and empowering tale.” The large size of this picture book gives Sis plenty of space to showcase his distinctive artwork.

If you are not familiar with Peter Sis, it might be because his works are in several different areas in the Library. We have three of his books in the Easy collection and several books in our non-fiction collections. He has also provided illustrations for chapter books as well as books of poetry by Jack Prelutsky.

Madlenka by Peter Sis  Play, Mozart, Play by Peter Sis

Sis was born behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and requested asylum in the U.S. during a film-making trip. He wrote movingly about his early years in his illustrated autobiography The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain.

The Wall by Peter Sis

His work as an illustrator of chapter books includes the Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson and several books by Sid Fleischman.

The Dream Stealer by Sid Fleischman   The Wind Singer by Wiliam Nicholson

In 2010, he illustrated The Dreamer, a fictionalized account of the life of poet Pablo Neruda, written by Pam Munoz Ryan. His illustrations are an integral part of this inspirational book and provide a magical touch to the story of a boy struggling to find the freedom to express his creativity.

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan & Peter Sis

Peter Sis has written and illustrated several picture book biographies including books about Columbus, Galileo and Darwin. Before Robinson, his most recent book was The Pilot and the Little Prince, based on the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery,  French pilot and writer of the children’s classic The Little Prince.

Starry Messenger by Peter Sis   The Tree of Life by Peter Sis

The Pilot and the Little Prince by Antoin de Saint-Exupery

In 2012, Peter Sis was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Book Award for his lasting contributions to children’s literature. He has one adult book to his credit, The Conference of the Birds. This 2011 book is an illustrated retelling of a classic poem by Persian poet Farid Ud-Din Attar. The picture shown below is from the interior of the book rather than the cover. You can read more here about this incredible book.

The Conference of Birds by Peter Sis

Why Picture Books are so Important to Readers of all Ages

Hey there! This week we are kicking off a blog post series all about Picture Books. November is National Picture Book month and they hold a special place in my heart. So I’ve got some awesome posts lined up for you. And today is the first one.

So, why are Picture Books so important? Not only to little ones but to adults as well?

Below I outline some of the reasons I feel Picture Books are so important for all ages.

Excellent Story Telling

Did you know that Pictures Books have to tell their entire story & include their illustrations in only 64 pages??

Does that seem crazy to you?

People who write for Picture Books have big shoes to fill in only a few pages. So they are excellent storytellers. And they are beautiful examples of literature that need our appreciation even though they are written for young readers in mind.

Reading Concepts

The introduction of reading concepts to young readers is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I have spent most of my career supporting programs for early literacy.

I believe that when you get little ones hooked on reading it encourages lifelong learning.

So, even if the little one can’t read yet it introduces them to those concepts and gets them excited about reading as they grow.

Build vocabulary

You may think Picture Books use simple words and plot lines but you’d be surprised. Many use complex words to push and expose children to higher levels of vocabulary.

Describe complex topics in a safe format

Things like art and history or even topics like divorce. Picture books are here to help children understand the abstract world around them in a safe way.

Start conversations

It starts as a tool for parents and children to discuss the topics and story as well as the complex topics tackled in the book. Like for example in Where the Wild Things Are Max learns all about consequences of his actions. This is a great conversation starter between parents and children to help them understand that their actions do have consequences.

Bridge the gap between generations

Now, this is my FAVORITE reason why Picture Books are so important. I love this one so much that I’ll be talking about it in one of the later blog posts for this series. All about the Pictures Books my granddaughter has introduced me to.

Me the Librarian!

It helps involve multi-generations in activities and encourages growth and conversations between young and old.


National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month! It’s time to buckle down at your computer or with a pen and paper and write that novel you’ve been meaning to write. This is an Internet-based creative writing challenge that began in 1999 with just 21 participants. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Participants can start as early as November 1 at 12:00 a.m. Your words and work can be tracked on the NaNoWriMo website throughout the month of November.

Some novels completed during National Novel Writing Month have even been published and beloved by thousands. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see your name on the cover of your own novel someday! On the website, you can find your region, which will connect you to local writers in your community to meet up with or be inspired by.

Here are some popular novels you can check out from the Aurora Public Library District today that were completed during National Novel Writing Month from Goodreads:

Wool by Hugh Howey

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

The Forrest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

As an aspiring writer myself, I’d like to see my name on the list someday. I think I’ll try to participate in National Novel Writing Month, too!

Happy Writing!

Family Literacy Day!

November 1 is Family Literacy Day! Here are some ways in which you can celebrate as a family:

The most common way to celebrate Family Literacy Day is to read some short books or chapters in a long book together as a family. Make it a habit and read together every night before bed. This can be a great bonding experience for you and your family, not to mention it will relax everyone and prepare you for sleep. Now it’s easier than ever to include the whole family with video chatting features like Skype and FaceTime; family members traveling or who live far away can now interact with each other effortlessly.

You can read traditional physical books of your own or one that you checked out from the library, or you can visit the virtual library on the Indiana Digital Download Center. With your library card and pin numbers, you’ll have access to thousands of books with just the click of a button. You can download them to any kind of electronic device, like a laptop, iPad, Kindle, smartphone Nook, etc., or you can read directly from your browser.

Are you always on the go and don’t always have the time to sit down and read with your family? You can also listen to audio books in the car running errands, going for walks, or while you’re cooking dinner. Family Literacy Day is all about celebrating all forms of literacy, which includes reading comprehension; you can practice comprehension skills by following along as you listen closely. You can check out audio books on CD from the Aurora Public Library District or you can check out a digital audio book that can be downloaded directly to your smart phone or other listening devices.

Include fun family games with emphasis on reading, like Apples to Apples, Bananagrams, Scrabble, Boggle, or Headbanz/Head’s Up in your family game nights. A great way to encourage reluctant readers to read is by playing these fun games together as a family. Incorporate learning and literacy into your regular routine by having a family game night once a week.

You could have a book-themed dinner with dishes inspired by your family’s favorite books (Pinterest is a great website for finding recipes!). Everyone can help preparing the food and you could have trivia questions about your favorite books to challenge each other. Why save this fun meal for Family Literacy Day? You could do this once a month with the different books your family reads together each month.

And, finally, make it a point to visit the library together as a family. It is important to instill how imperative literacy is in your children from a very young age so that they’ll always appreciate reading and learning. Visit the Aurora Public Library District on a regular basis as a family because we love to see you!

Happy Reading!