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M. SASEK

Noticing that young tourists were ill prepared for sightseeing, Miroslav Sasek wrote and illustrated his first book, This Is Paris, in 1959. This was followed by volumes on London and Rome, which met with such success that the "This Is" series continued for thirteen additional titles.

Sasek’s education in art and architecture merged effectively with his peripatetic nature. His renderings of historic buildings, soaring cathedrals, and other significant structures arrest the eye with their clarity of detail. He intersperses these tour book sites with glimpses of everyday life and is careful to include scenes of interest to children: parks and zoos, shops, signs and vehicles, policemen, schoolchildren, and tourists like themselves.

The picture-book format is deceptive, for his books demand an inquiring eye. Each one demonstrates Sasek’s creative mind and attention to small, telling details. Native languages, stamps, currency, flags, costumes, and customs are skillfully integrated into the plentiful illustrations. Sasek used several art techniques in his illustrations. Cityscapes and countrysides are impressionistic. Photographs authenticate statuary, postage, and postcards. The features of cartoon-style people are similar from culture to culture, though their expressions and dress are distinctive. White space is used effectively to frame an object or person and to focus attention. Bright colors of the present provide a lively contrast to the muted tones of the past. The bright, bold covers feature a native resident in uniform or in national costume. Coins, statuary, documents, and other derivative symbols decorate the frontispiece. The locale is also reinforced by the lettering and incidental drawings of the title page. Tongue-in-cheek sketches of the artist, portfolio under arm, begin and end each sojourn.

Sasek’s text is enlivened by his humor, his use of quotations, and his distinctive introductions, some of which provide historical notes or legends. The text offers a pattern of captionlike sentences combined with longer factual and descriptive sections. The books conclude with wit, wisdom, or wistfulness, and a sense that there are other places to visit.

These books have at last been reissued. The books are still timely and current in every way. The have been meticulously preserved, remaining true to Sasek' vision and, where applicable, facts have been updated for the twenty-first century, appearing on a "This is...Today" page at the back of each book. The stylish, charming illustrations, coupled with Sasek's witty, playful narrative, makes for a perfect souvenir that will delight both children and their parents, many of whom will remember these books from their childhood.

Ages 4 to 8 (and up)
Titles currently in the reissued series: This is...
Britain Edinburgh Greece Hong Kong Ireland
Israel London New York Paris Rome
   
  San Francisco Texas Venice  
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Chicago, Illinois
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