One Christmas Eve in the midst of a blur of lastminute gift-shopping, I found myself in the children's section of the Blackwells bookshop in Cardiff, in search of a little something for my niece. I picked up a book whose cover caught my eye:
The Three Golden Keys by Peter Sís. Quickly leafing through it, I could see at once that it was a very lovely book, though perhaps a little hard for a four-year-old to read. I bought it anyway, thinking she could always enjoy the pictures & grow into the text.
The book follows the author's journey, in his mind's eye, back to his native city of Prague. Mr. Sís had been living in New York for many years, and apparently wanted to reclaim something of his birthplace, in part as an heirloom for his daughter: the book is dedicated to her.
Through the images and texts, the reader follows a trail of memories of the city through each of the year's seasons, and inbetweentimes learns of some of its legends, each one a golden key for unlocking the past.
I enjoyed reading this book to my niece so much that I went back and bought a second copy, for myself.
I've since read another of Mr. Sís' works, no less remarkable, entitled Tibet: Through the Red Box. This book tells of Sís' father, a documentary film-maker, who sets out on a journey from communist China into the heart of Tibet. Nominally this is, again, a book for children, but I, for one adult, found it a rich and satisfying work of literature and art.