I grew up in Prague in the Czech Republic. Just outside our flat there was a wood where I spent lots of time playing with friends. We would climb on piles of soil or build bunkers from forgotten builder’s materials. I always wanted to be an illustrator, but I preferred to look at the pictures inside the books rather than to read them. I would listen to the story or watch a film and then fill up my sketchbook with pictures and images from the story. I started to read books quite late, but I haven’t stopped since.
I studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Prague, where I painted and drew for six years. Some of my pictures were as big as a double bed! Every autumn the teachers drove us to the countryside, where they left us for a few weeks (once even a few months!) to paint and draw the landscape. Since then I have adored the autumn. One day an English girl named Claire came into my studio and before I knew it, I was living in England. We are married now and I love England, but it took me some time to learn English—in fact, I’m still learning.
My two daughters, Tereza and Cecilia, are the biggest inspiration for my work. I started to work on children’s books when Tereza was born. For my first books, Strawberries Are Red and What Is Black and White?, I received the Books for Children Newcomer Award in 2001. It was presented to me in a restaurant and we had a nice lunch. I still remember the lunch and I still have the trophy. I like doing novelty books best. I think it’s very exciting looking through the holes in the pages and seeing what will happen if I turn one more page!
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I love children’s drawings.
2. I can’t spell—it’s rather embarrassing.
3. I like listening to radio plays.