The Three Golden Keys by Peter Sis - 1994 First Edition - Vintage Child Book, Prague Czechoslovakia, Czech Legends, Czech Folk Tales


1994 first edition of The Three Golden Keys by Peter Sis tells of a man in a hot-air balloon who's blown off course and taken to his childhood home of Prague.

Written and illustrated by Peter Sis. November, 1994 first edition, first printing. Doubleday.

"A wild and turbulent storm took control of my hot-air balloon and sent me far off course.

When the storm finally calmed, I found myself floating toward the spires of a big city.

I did not have to wonder about the city, as my balloon was rapidly losing air.

I was lucky to land unharmed on a deserted square. I quickly got out of the gondola.

There was nobody anywhere. But, all of a sudden, everything around me reminded me of my childhood... Could it be that the storm had taken me all the way back to Prague, where I grew up? Would I still remember the way through the twisting streets to my family house?"

Sis begins the story with a letter to his daughter Madeleine:

"My Dear Madeleine,

... By the time you can make sense of this note it will be the 21st century. You were born in New York, in the New World, and surely you will be wondering one day where your father came from. This book is to explain just that. You might never speak Czech. You may prefer other parts of this beautiful planet... You are free. ... However, one day you will enter Prague, the place I grew up, in your silent slippers soft as cat's paws, and you will look for the keys."

Peter arrives at his family's home in Prague to find it locked with three padlocks. The family's black cat is there to meet him and leads him through the city, through three seasons, and we learn of three Czech legends that lead to the three keys needed to open the padlocks.

Peter Sis (1949 -) was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia. While in the US in 1982 to create an animated film about Czechoslovakia's participation in the Los Angeles Olympics, the USSR boycotted the Olympics. Sis stayed in the US and was granted asylum. In 2012, he was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest honor given to writers or illustrators of children's books.
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