|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2013)|
Spier was born in Amsterdam, North Holland, and grew up in Broek in Waterland, the son of Jo Spier, a popular artist and illustrator, and Tineke van Raalte. His father Spier was Jewish and, during the Second World War, Peter was one of nine prisoners of Villa Bouchina and was later in Theresienstadt. After the war he studied at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam and joined the Royal Netherlands Navy for four years. The entire Spier family emigrated to the United States in 1950. Spier started his career as a commercial artist for advertising agencies and only later focused on writing and illustrating children's books.
Medium and artistic style
Like other children's illustrators such as Beatrix Potter or Christopher Wormell, Peter Spier demonstrates his talent and skills as an artist/illustrator using pen, ink and watercolour on paper. Many of Spier's illustrations are extremely detailed and historically accurate. Close examination will often yield a humorous scene not readily apparent at first glance the finding of which often delights readers of all ages.
Spier reserved all rights and retained the copyrights to his works. In correspondence he noted that many of the original publishing plates used to reproduce his work were not available though the original works were thought to survive.
The Doubleday & Company, Inc., of Garden City, New York originally published many of Spier's works including The Mother Goose Library Series: "London Bridge Is Falling Down!". More recent publications can be found under the labels Double Day Books For Young Readers, Dragonfly Books and Random House.
Noah's Ark (1977) won the annual Caldecott Medal from the American Library Association, recognizing the illustrator of the year's "most distinguished American picture book for children". In its first paperback edition, it won a 1982 National Book Award in category Picture Books.[a] The book was named to the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award list in 1978.
- The Cow Who Fell in the Canal (1957), by Phyllis Krasilovsky
- Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates (1958), by Mary Mapes Dodge (1865, revised 1876)
- The Sailing Ship (1964), by Jan de Hartog
- History of the Theater (1964), by Hannelore Marek
- Great Furniture Styles, 1660–1830 (1965), by Donald D. MacMillan
- Elizabethan England (1965), by Anthony West
- Here and There: 100 poems about places (1967), compiled by Elinor Parker
- The Erie Canal (1970), an edition of "Low Bridge" by Thomas S. Allen (1905), "includes musical notation"
- The Star-Spangled Banner (1973), an edition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key (1814) —"includes music, background history, and pictures of flags"
- We The People: The Constitution Of The United States Of America (1987) —"includes the text of the Constitution of the United States", a bicentennial edition of the US Constitution
- The Last Hurdle (1988), by F. K. Brown (1953)
- The Little Riders (1988), by Margaretha Shemin —later adapted as a Disney film
- Spier won the 1982 award for paperback Picture Books.
From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Award history there were dual awards for hardcover and paperback books in many categories. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including Noah's Ark. Also during that period alone, there were multiple Children's categories, including Picture Books in 1982 and 1983.
- From 1980 to 1983 there were multiple Children's categories, including Nonfiction from 1981 to 1983. Very few nonfiction books have won the undifferentiated NBA for Children's or Young People's Literature (1969–79 and 1996–present).
- "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938–Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
"The Randolph Caldecott Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
- "National Book Awards – 1982". National Book Foundation (NBF). Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "National Book Awards – 1981". NBF. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "The Cow Who Fell In The Canal". Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- Peter Spier Papers in the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection — with biographical sketch
- Review of "The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night", a 1961 Caldecott Honor Book by Spier