Three Golden Keys, The

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9780385472920: Three Golden Keys, The

The incomparable range and imagination of Czech artist Peter Sis is known the world over through his animated films, paintings, and best-selling children's books such asKomodo!, The Dragons Are Singing, and Follow The Dream. Now, with The Three Golden Keys, he gives us his most heartfelt and autobiographical work to date: the reworking of three classic Czechoslovakian fairy tales into a haunting illustrated fable of his lost childhood in Prague that is also a deeply felt allegory of the reclamation of a Czech cultural identity after forty-five years of Communist rule. A man returns to his home in the ancient city of his childhood. Three large rusty locks bar his entry. He knows he must somehow find the three golden keys that will let him in. Suddenly a black cat leaps off the gate; seeming to invite him to follow. Together they search through Prague's monuments and landmarks. With each key they find, a different aspect of the city comes to life and recounts for them a classic Czech fairy tale. The man runs back to his childhood home and excitedly opens the three rusty locks. Inside the front door, back turned to him, is his mother. She glances up, and as she recognizes him and comes to life, so does the city. Utterly magical on every level, The Three Golden Keys is destined to become a classic of children's literature. It truly is a "book for children of all ages."

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About the Author:

Peter Sis was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and studied painting and filmmaking at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague, and at the Royal College of Art in London. He has written and illustrated many award-winning books for children, including the Caldecott Honor-winning Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei and Tibet Through the Red Box. He lives in Paris, France and New York City.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 2-4-When a storm blows a man's hot-air balloon off-course, he lands in a city where everything recalls his childhood in Prague. He finds the family house but it is locked with three rusty padlocks. He follows the family cat through the empty streets to the library, the Emperor's garden, and the famous town-square clock. In each place, figures from the past emerge from the walls and unroll a scroll that holds a key and relates the traditional Czech legends of Prince Bruncvik and his magic sword, the Golem, and Hanus the clockmaker. With the three keys in hand, he returns home where he recollects voices, sounds, and pictures. From the foreword to his daughter to the first-person voice, Sis has created a personal journey that is multilayered with images, memories, and symbols. The art itself is layered with felines, faces, and ghostly figures imposed over backgrounds, camouflaged in streets and structures, and emerging from misty reflections. With tiny, delicate lines and meshlike textures, the artist's distinctive style is evocative. The scroll stories are handscripted in numbered sequences with a pictogram bordering the two-page spreads. The tiny handwriting is so intricate it requires close focus. Overall the book is intriguing, with visual and textual subtleties interconnecting with cultural and historical ties. Older picture book readers should appreciate the beauty of the illustrations and the symbolism.
Julie Cummins, New York Public Library
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Peter Sis
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