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Petr Horácek

As a child

I grew up in Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic, on the outskirts of the capital city, Prague. Just outside our flat there was a wood where I spent lots of time playing with friends. We would also climb on piles of soil or build bunkers from forgotten builder’s materials. I always liked the idea of being an illustrator. I preferred to look at the pictures inside the books rather than to read them. I would listen to plays and stories on the radio or watch a film and then fill up my sketchbooks with pictures and images from the story I had just heard or seen. I started to read books quite late in my teens, but I haven’t stopped since.

As an adult

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. As a student I used to earn extra money by cleaning windows and carpets in department stores. I also designed posters and leaflets. One day an English girl called Claire came into my studio and I fell in love. 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.

As an author-illustrator

My two daughters were the biggest inspiration for my work when they were little. I started to work on children’s books when my first daughter was born. For my first books, Strawberries Are Red and What Is Black and White? I received the Books for Children Newcomer Award 2001. It was where my career as an illustrator and author started. I work from my home. My studio is rather small and it’s getting smaller all the time. It is in the attic of our house. Once a year in the autumn I travel back to the Czech Republic, where I stay in a beautiful cottage. It is in the middle of nowhere. There are woods, meadows, deer and nobody else. I paint, walk and think about new stories. I stay a couple of weeks and I return home with paintings and new ideas for books.

Ten things you didn’t know about Petr Horacek

  1. I love children's drawings.
  2. I love looking at the sky.
  3. I love walking in woods and picking mushrooms.
  4. I love snow and I know how to ski.
  5. I love cakes (any cakes!) and vanilla ice cream (or any other ice cream!).
  6. I love playing tennis.
  7. I love watching people walking their dogs.
  8. I love music – from the very old to the very loud and rattley.
  9. I love listening to the radio.
  10. I can't spell. (It's rather embarrassing.)

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