Peter Spier

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Peter Spier
Born(1927-06-06)June 6, 1927
Amsterdam, North Holland
DiedApril 27, 2017(2017-04-27) (aged 89)
Port Jefferson, New York
Occupationchildren's writer and illustrator
NationalityDutch and American
EducationRijksakademie in Amsterdam
Notable works
  • Island City: Adventures In Old New York (1961)
  • The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night (1961)
  • London Bridge Is Falling Down! (1967), in the Mother Goose Library Series
  • To Market! To Market! (1967)
Notable awardsNoah's Ark won:
  • Caldecott Medal from the American Library Association
  • 1982 National Book Award in the Picture Book category
  • 1978 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award

Peter Spier (June 6, 1927 – April 27, 2017) was a Dutch-born American illustrator and writer who created more than thirty children's books.

Biographical information[edit]

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. Jo Spier was Jewish, and, during the Second World War, Peter and his father were two of nine prisoners of Villa Bouchina and were later imprisoned in Theresienstadt.[1] After the war he studied at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam and joined the Royal Netherlands Navy for four years.[1] 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.[1] He died on April 27, 2017 in Port Jefferson, New York.[2]

Medium and artistic style[edit]

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".[3] In its first paperback edition, it won a 1982 National Book Award in category Picture Books.[4][a] The book was named to the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award list in 1978.

People (1980) won a Christopher Award and was one of five finalists for the 1981 National Book Award in category Children's Nonfiction.[5][b] It was also adapted into a 1995 television special by Disney.[6]

The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night (1961) was named a Caldecott Honor Book by the American Library Association in 1962.


  • Island City: Adventures In Old New York (1961)
  • The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night (1961)
  • London Bridge Is Falling Down! (1967), in the Mother Goose Library Series
  • To Market! To Market! (1967)
  • Hurrah, We're Outward Bound! (1968)
  • And So My Garden Grows (1969)
  • Of Dikes and Windmills (1969)
  • The Erie Canal (1970)
  • Gobble, Growl, Grunt (1971)
  • Fast-Slow High-Low (1972)
  • Crash! Bang! Boom! (1972)
  • Tin Lizzie (1975)
  • Noah's Ark (1977)[4]
  • Bored—nothing to do! (1978)
  • Oh, Were They Ever Happy! (1978)
  • The Legend of New Amsterdam (1979)
  • People (1980)[5]
  • Peter Spier's Village Board Books (1981)
    • Bill's Service Station
    • Firehouse
    • The Toy Shop
    • My School
    • Pet Store
    • Food Market
  • Peter Spier's Christmas
  • Peter Spier's Little Bible Storybooks
    • Genesis creation narrative|The Creation
    • Noah
    • Jonah
  • Peter Spier's Little Animal Books
    • Little Cats
    • Little Dogs
    • Little Ducks
    • Little Rabbits
  • Dreams
  • We the People
  • Peter Spier's Advent Calendar: Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Peter Spier's Advent Calendar: Silent Night, Holy Night
  • Rain (1982)
  • No Such Things (1983)
  • Christmas! (1983)
  • The Book Of Jonah (1985)
  • Big Trucks, Little Trucks (1988)
  • Fast Cars, Slow Cars (1988)
  • Here Come The Fire Trucks (1988)
  • Trucks That Dig And Dump (1988)
  • Circus (1995)

As illustrator[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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).


  1. ^ a b c "Peter Spier". New Netherland Institute. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  2. ^ Sandomir, Richard (May 5, 2017). "Peter Spier, Illustrator of Children's Books, Dies at 89". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 1982". National Book Foundation (NBF). Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  5. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 1981". NBF. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  6. ^ Zad, Martie (1995-10-22). "DISNEY'S PEOPLE' CELEBRATES U.N. DAY". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  7. ^ "The Cow Who Fell In The Canal". Retrieved 2012-04-29.

External links[edit]