Cover image for Madlenka
Sís, Peter, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus Giroux, 2000.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
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.
Reading Level:
AD 110 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 1.4 0.5 43333.

Reading Counts RC K-2 1.3 1 Quiz: 22655 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



A trip around a city block is like a trip around the world!

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!

Madlenka is a 2000 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year. This title has Common Core connections.

Author Notes

Peter Sis was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1949 and attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. He began his career as a filmmaker and won the Golden Bear Award at the 1980 West Berlin Film Festival for an animated short. He has also won the Grand Prix Toronto and the Cine Golden Eagle Award, and in 1983 collaborated with Bob Dylan on You Got to Serve Somebody. His film work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

In 1982 Sis was sent to Los Angeles to produce a film for the 1984 Winter Olympics. But the film project was canceled when Czechoslovakia and the entire Eastern bloc decided to boycott the Olympics. Ordered by his government to return home, Sis decided to stay in the United States and was granted asylum. Sis then met Maurice Sendak who introduced him to children's books, and he moved to New York City in 1984 to begin a career in children's literature.

Sís earned quick acclaim with the publication of the 1986 Newbery Medal Winner, The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleishman, for which he did the illustrations. Sis is a five-time winner of The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year.. Komodo! and A Small Tall Tale from the Far Far North were each named a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, and he has won a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal for Komodo! and a Silver Medal for The Three Golden Keys. Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei was a 1997 Caldecott Honor Book, as was Tibet Through the Red Box. Sis has also received a MacArthur Fellowship

Sis' editorial illustrations have appeared in Time, Newsweek, Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, and many other magazines in the United States and abroad. He has published nearly 1,000 drawings in The New York Times Book Review. He has designed many book jackets and posters, including, in 1984, the famous poster for Milos Forman's Academy Award-winning motion picture Amadeus. He has also completed a mural for the Washington/Baltimore Airport, a poster for the New York City subway system, and a stage set for the Joffrey Ballet. His work has been exhibited in Prague, London, Zurich, Hamburg, Los Angeles, and New York in both group and one-man shows.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. "In the universe, on a planet, on 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." So begins Sis' latest book, and on the following pages, Madlenka delivers her news "around the world" as she circles her block and celebrates with the international shopkeepers in visually stunning spreads rendered in Sis' signature drawings of detailed fantasy. A full-page image of each merchant and his storefront faces an aerial view of Madlenka, surrounded by the concentric borders. First are her block's stores (with each new shop colored in as it's introduced). Also present are small, culturally signifying cartoons that in some instances seem Eurocentric and stereotypical: the images for Mr. Ciao, from Italy, for example, are Pisa, pizza, and spaghetti; the drawings for Eduardo, seemingly representative of the entire continent of Latin America, show generalized categories--mountains, rivers, and people, including a figure in headdress and loincloth. The real magic comes in the cleverly cut-away windows in each storefront through which children glimpse complex, global dreamscapes. Madlenka journeys through these mystical places, too, and it is these surreal, wordless stories-within-the-story that will excite a wide range of children, launching them in their own imagined departures. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 islandDall with tiny red dotsDlead 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 ptisserie 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-Exupry'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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.