PEN Member Peter Sis has won the Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award, the most prestigious international award for a children’s book illustrator. Sis, who was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, was nominated by the Czech Republic. He is the author-illustrator of many prize-winning books, including The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, The Tree of Life, Tibet Through the Red Box, Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei, and his first book for adults, The Conference of the Birds, based on a 12th-century Sufi poem.

In 1982, Sis was sent by the Czech government to Los Angeles to produce a film for the 1984 Winter Olympics. But the film project was canceled when Czechoslovakia and the entire Eastern bloc decided to boycott the Olympics. Ordered by his government to return home, Peter decided to stay in the United States and was granted asylum. A correspondence with Maurice Sendak led to a meeting and Peter’s introduction to children’s book editors, and he moved to New York City in 1984 to begin a new career. He now lives in the New York City area with his wife and children.