Peeking out through a die-cut window on the jacket, Madlenka invites the reader to enter her world. And what a world it is! On the surface, it looks like an ordinary city block, but as we meet Madlenka's neighbors -- the French baker, the Indian news vendor, the Italian ice-cream man, the Latin American grocer, a retired opera singer from Germany, an African American school friend, and the Asian shopkeeper -- and look through die-cut windows to the images and memories they have carried from old country to new, we...

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Peeking out through a die-cut window on the jacket, Madlenka invites the reader to enter her world. And what a world it is! On the surface, it looks like an ordinary city block, but as we meet Madlenka's neighbors -- the French baker, the Indian news vendor, the Italian ice-cream man, the Latin American grocer, a retired opera singer from Germany, an African American school friend, and the Asian shopkeeper -- and look through die-cut windows to the images and memories they have carried from old country to new, we can see that Madlenka's block is as richly varied as its inhabitants. And why is Madlenka going around the block, jumping for joy? Her tooth is loose, and she wants everyone to know!

Peter Sís 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. His many books include two Caldecott Honor winners: Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei and Tibet Through the Red Box. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

Madlenka, whose New York City neighbors include the French baker, the Indian news vendor, the Italian ice-cream man, the South American grocer, and the Chinese shopkeeper, goes around the block to show her friends her loose tooth and finds that it is like taking a trip around the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Madlenka lives in New York City, and a trip around her block is like a trip around the world. Everyone knows the friendly little girl -- from the French baker and the Indian news vendor to the Italian ice-cream man and the Asian shopkeeper. When Madlenka has some good news to share, she visits all her multicultural neighbors -- and they shower her with treats and kind words. With Madlenka, two-time Caldecott Honor-winning author Peter Sis delivers an exquisite tale featuring see-through windows and stunningly detailed illustrations -- a book that allows readers to peek into Madlenka's magical world and celebrate the wonders of different people and different places.
From the Publisher

"'In the universe, on a planet, one a continent, in a country, in a city, on a block, in a house, in a window, in the rain, a little girl named Madlenka finds out her tooth wiggles. She has to tell everyone' . . . visually stunning spreads rendered in Sis' signatures drawings of detailed fantasy." -Boxed, Booklist

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Incorporating many of the visually astonishing methods of Tibet Through the Red Box, S s chronicles the adventures of a New York City girl (based on S s's own daughter) whose loose tooth occasions a one-of-a-kind round-the-world tour. S s reels readers into Madlenka's neighborhood using meticulous cross-hatch drawings with a pale blue-gray wash: a distant view of the earth, then a continent, then an island--all with tiny red dots--lead up to the title page, which zeroes in on Madlenka's building on her block on Manhattan's Lower East Side. At last, the red dot becomes distinguishable as Madlenka's blouse as she stands in the window on the fourth floor. Discovering her tooth loose, the girl runs down the three flights of stairs to spread the news. The moment Madlenka makes her announcement, "Hey, everyone my tooth is loose!" her block breaks out of its box-like shape and transforms into a round carousel bursting with color. Here S s sets the rhythm for the balance of the book. Madlenka's first stop is the French bakery. A silhouette image of the heroine appears at the left of the spread, as she calls out to the baker, "Hello, Mr. Gaston. My tooth is loose!" S s frames her image with a scaled-down version of the city block and a border that highlights the bakery's yields. On the right-hand side of the spread, Mr. Gaston enters his p tisserie carrying baguettes ("Bonjour, Madeleine. Let's celebrate"); through a die-cut view of a tapestry in his shop window, readers see the Eiffel Tower flying the French flag. A turn of the page reveals a spread of the Eiffel Tower surrounded by not only Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe, but also Bemelmans's Madeline and Saint-Exup ry's Little Prince. Her visit to Mr. Singh's newsstand ("Sathsariakal, Madela") offers a glimpse of India; a stop at Mr. Ciao's ice cream truck ("Buon giorno, Maddalena"), a taste of Italy. Each of her visits sparks similar exchanges and other distant destinations, but thanks to S s's careful buildup, the shops and their keepers retain a cozy proximity. As he did with Tibet Through the Red Box, S s takes readers to exotic lands, yet continues to bring them back to the comfort of what they know. In Tibet, it was the father's study; here, it is Madlenka's block. When Madlenka returns home and tells her parents that she "went all around the world," readers will feel that they, too, have been armchair travelers, delivered safely home in S s's capable hands. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
For Madlenka a trip around the world is as close as her own neighborhood. Delighted with her wobbly tooth, she sets off to announce to everyone, "my tooth is loose." Monsieur Gaston, the baker, welcomes her with a bonjour and a step inside his shop is a virtual tour of France. So it is with Mr. Singh at his newsstand, Mr. Ciao in his ice cream truck, Mr. Eduardo, the green grocer, Magda, the very cool Cleopatra, and Mrs. Kham in her shop of Asian delights. Upon her return to her own apartment when her frantic parents inquire as to her whereabouts, Madlenka proudly proclaims that she has been around the world and she has lost a tooth. The incredible artistry of Peter Sis knows no bounds in the visually appealing and immensely accessible picture book. Zooming in from outer space, the eye follows a tiny red dot to the planet, a continent, a busy New York city block, finally to an apartment window where Madlenka stands. Color is used sparingly but dramatically to draw attention to small details. Diecut storefront windows reveal a rich visual of each owner's country of origin. Always, there is the delightful Madlenka in her yellow boots and umbrella. Typeface changes, text runs around the edges or under the illustrations in the hurried fashion of this whirlwind tour. When at last the reader reaches the end, he or she cannot help but want to go back and start all over again, so captivating is this book. A solid winner. 2000, Farrar, Ages 5 to 10, $17.00. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
From The Critics
The book itself is square, like the New York City block where the story is set. But just as the book represents the block, this city block represents the world. In Madlenka, author/illustrator Peter Sis follows his young heroine around her block as she spreads glad tidings: "Hey, everyone . . . my tooth is loose!" She tells her friends: the French baker, the Indian newsstand owner, the Italian food vendor, the German storyteller, the Latin American grocer, and the Asian shopkeeper. As Madlenka sets out, her colorful figure is centered in a black-and-white map of her block. Her path is shown by which buildings are shaded: only those she has stopped at or passed are filled in. On the outermost edges of the map, captioned cartoons tell of Madlenka's friends. As she greets Mr. Gaston, the border shows samples of treats he bakes and French landmarks like the Arche d'Triomphe. The pastries are identified. The landmarks are not. The map is on a left-hand page. On the facing, right-hand page, Mr. Gaston's shop has a die-cut window. We see a bit of his world, the Eiffel Tower, peek through. And when we turn the page to see more, the window falls neatly over Madlenka's form, so that she is now peering into her friend's world. She is surrounded by his stories, shown as tiny, wordless pictures, in fine navy lines on a blue-gray background. Children left to their own devices may just enjoy finding the almost-hidden pictures. They may recognize some: the two-page spread symbolizing France shows Bemelman's Madeleine, famous mime Marcel Marceau, Puss In Boots, de Saint Exupery's Little Prince, a Tour de France rider, Napoleon, and more. (Look for Babar in vain: the closest imagehere is of Cyrano.) Adults may or may not be able to identify every symbol for this or the other countries visited in like style. This makes the book a wonderful conversation-starter, ideal for lap-reading or beginning readers. The pictures are surely too minute for story-hour sharing. Sis's signature cross-hatch renderings are laid over rain-puddly watercolor washes when Madlenka is "in" New York. When she "travels," his meticulous background use evocative, folkloric colors: gentle sunset tones for India, reds and golds for China. In all, Sis's Madlenka is a comforting introduction to the great, wide world—which turns, after all, because of huge, intimate events. Like losing a tooth. 2000, Frances Foster/Farrar Straus Giroux, $17.00. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Diana Star Helmer — The Five Owls, January/February 2001 (Vol. 15 No. 3)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-A little girl joyfully skips around her New York City block to proclaim the news that her tooth is loose. In S's's hands, this is a journey filled with mystical creatures and magical symbols, as the child is greeted by an international panoply of merchants and neighbors. The tale unfolds as Madlenka first gives a realistic description of what she enjoys at each location, followed by a fanciful dreamscape of what she encounters in each world. She visits an Indian news vendor, an Italian ice-cream seller, a Latin greengrocer, among others, before returning home and explaining to her worried parents where's she's been. "Well-I went around the world. And I lost my tooth!" The opening pages depict increasingly focused aerial views, starting with a red dot on the globe on the endpapers and moving to a dizzying child's perspective of surrounding skyscrapers. Centered square or circular die-cuts frame the little blonde figure clad in pink on the left, offering glimpses into exotic lands on the right. The stark white background around the child contrasts effectively with the dark ink-and-watercolor scenes once the threshold has been crossed. Groups will be captivated by the concept and the drama provided by the die-cuts and the fantastic settings. Individuals will pore over the many details, delighting in the emergence of forms and meaning provided by close inspection. An odyssey made all the more wondrous by pairing a big moment in a small child's life with the happenings in the cosmos.-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Karen Carden
Sis, who was born in Czechoslovakia, showcases many of the world's cultures residing side by side in New York. He incorporates simple and telling details—real and imaginary—into his rich and sophisticated art, Illustrations are intricate, providing plenty to see on every turn of the page. Several ingenious cut-outs provide literal peeks into this international city.
The Christian Science Monitor
Kirkus Reviews
Madlenka is losing her tooth and sets out to make her happy announcement to everyone in her multiethnic New York City neighborhood. This brief story captures all of Sís's most distinguished qualities of dreamlike mystery while remaining accessible to younger children. The book is meticulously designed, from the endpapers, which show New York as a flyspeck on planet Earth and zoom in on Madlenka's city, neighborhood, block, house; to the book's square shape that replicates Madlenka's block; to the die cuts through which readers view Madlenka on the one hand and a distant culture on the other. As she visits each shop on her block, Madlenka shares her news with a shopkeeper from another country who literally offers a visual window on his culture (France, India, Italy, Latin America, Africa, Asia). Ingenious page design often demands that the reader rotate the page, just as Madlenka herself, always visible safely at the center, circumscribes the block and by extension the globe. While cultural appreciation and inclusiveness are Sís's clear intent, some concerns must be noted. Madlenka's culturally diverse neighbors are as overly costumed as collectible "dolls-of-all-nations." Doubtless Mr. Singh (India) does wear a turban, but he may not wear pointy-toed shoes. The exotic costumes may also prove misleading to suburban children who also live with people of many cultures, but who likely see more assimilation in styles of dress. The exquisite double-page spreads invite close inspection, but prove unequal in content and specificity: the European cultures are rich in historic and cultural minutiae, while Africa and Latin America reveal a paucityof detail.Sadly, comparison is unavoidable. There is a lamentable lack of differentiation in world regions. Thus Asia, Latin America, and Africa are treated as one country visually, which will be deceiving to young readers. Undeniably clever, well-intentioned, and beautiful, but flawed. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374399696
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/4/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD110L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.32 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

PETER SÍS 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. His many books include two Caldecott Honor winners: Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei and Tibet Through the Red Box. He lives in New York City.

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Peter Sis

Barnes & When you were a child, did you always know you'd be an artist of some sort when you grew up? How did you get your start illustrating kids' books?

Peter Sis: My parents tell me I always wanted to be an artist, but I have my doubts. I always liked to draw...that I know. I first started to illustrate kids' books when my father would give me stories to illustrate (with a deadline) and then as a part of my art school education. These experiences proved handy when I came to New York and had to pay my rent.

B& What was it like growing up in Prague?

PS: Growing up in Prague was fun. At least that's how I remember it now. (I am sure I had some bad moments.) I wasn't really aware that Prague was the capitol of Czechoslovakia -- a small country in the heart of Europe. Thanks to my family I had a fun childhood.

B& As a native of another country, have you ever had difficulty writing for American children? How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

PS: I never had difficulty creating my books. The question is do American kids have difficulty understanding my books? All my books prior to 1992 were based on my childhood and feelings of leaving home. Rainbow Rhino, the whale in An Ocean World, Columbus in Follow the Dream, A Small Tall Tale from the Far Far North, even Starry Messenger and The Three Golden Keys were about me. Waving, Going Up, and An Ocean World were about my observations of my new "home." I was very lucky that my publishers and, even more so, American kids understood. Since 1992, I've been inspired by my own children. Madlenka, Fire Truck, Ship Ahoy!, Dinosaur!, Trucks Trucks Trucks, -- all those books are their experiences. Tibet: Through the Red Box is an exception. It is a tribute to my father, who became seriously ill.

B& Your artwork is very intricate and sophisticated -- as are many of your stories. Why do you think your books are so appealing to kids?

PS: You might call my artwork sophisticated. Thank you. You might also call it time-consuming. There are various reasons why I work the way I do. I am still trying to prove myself (in my new country). Also, as a little boy, and often bedridden, I would appreciate all the details in the books I was looking at. If my writing is complex and intricate it is because my thinking is. My desire is to come up with the simplest and clearest wordless book.

I think I am lucky my books are appealing to kids. When my children started to look at the world around them, I was amazed, as every parent is. I have been trying to follow them ever since (we lived across the street from a fire station and my son, Matej, became a fire truck. He played ship on our old couch and bathed with his dinosaurs).

B& Tell me about Madlenka. How did you come up with the story? Is Madlenka's neighborhood like your own neighborhood?

PS: Madlenka took some time to evolve. I realized early that our house and the block we live on is home to my daughter (while not quite to me) and that different people on the block know and love her (and give her little treats), and that all these people, New York being New York, are from all over the world.

This is so completely different from my own childhood. I wanted to celebrate this wonderful "universe." Unknowingly at the time, I also created a historical book. Not only is one of the streets on Madlenka's block Mulberry Street (known from Dr. Seuss) but thanks to the New boom and gentrification, many of the stores in the book have closed and become trendy boutiques.

B& What's next for Peter Sis? Tell me about the books you're working on now, and what we can expect to see from you soon.

PS: What is next? Matej is learning about numbers and his first tooth just fell out (it wiggled in New York, on the cross-Atlantic flight, in Prague, and fell out in Paris!). He also loves knights. Madeleine is in Paris right now... (I guess not such an original idea). She wants a dog, and pretends she has one. She loves the Beatles' songs, flowers, and swimming...I am reading about Charles Darwin...surely plenty of ideas to choose from.

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