Sís, Peter. 2001. The Three Golden Keys. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN: 0374375259
When a “wild and turbulent storm” sends him off course, a hot-air balloonist finds himself floating to his childhood home of Prague. The narrator finds his family house that is locked by three padlocks that guard “all its memories” and is met by his pet cat who takes him though the city’s winding deserted streets that continue to evoke the distant childhood memories. Stopping at a library, a garden, and the famous town square clock tower, the balloonist encounters surreal figures (a librarian comprised all of books) who present him with scrolls telling three Czech legends and three golden keys to unlock the memories. Written as a personal story to his young daughter, Sís entrances readers with the tale of regaining one’s memories through learning the historical legends of this Old World city. Filling each and every page (including the normally forgotten end pages), the dark, limited color and highly textured illustrations of the city are laced with hidden ghost-like symbols, faces, figures and a motif of cats secretly hidden in the sceneries provide the overall haunting and gothic mood of this tale. With hand-scribed lettering on the antique scrolls and the beginning letter to the author’s daughter to complete the Old Worldly feel, The Three Golden Keys will bring the readers to this ancient city and into the memories of one of its children.
*Read more about the Czech Republic with books like: Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Czechoslovakia by Virginia Haviland and The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís.
*Read other books by Peter Sís: Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei, Tibet Through the Red Box: Through the Red Box, The Tree of Life, A Small Tall Tale from the Far Far North, Madlenka, Follow the Dream, and Komodo!