Caldecott Honoree Peter Sís discusses the inspiration for his newest picture book Ice Cream Summer + Giveaway

Jeremy West  //  Jun 22, 2015

Caldecott Honoree Peter Sís discusses the inspiration for his newest picture book Ice Cream Summer + Giveaway

To celebrate the first day of summer finally arriving, we have the pleasure of having three-time Caldecott Honoree Peter Sís talk to us about the inspiration for his newest picture book Ice Cream Summer.  

What was your inspiration for the book? Why ice cream?

Ice cream and children, America and summer all represent freedom to me. And what could be more inspiring than freedom? I did not grow up in America, but my children were born here, and through them, I discovered the joy of ice cream trucks and parlors, colors and flavors, cones and cups! My children are grown now, and the book is a celebration of their childhoods and the many happy times we spent together in various places eating ice cream. I hope young readers and their families will see themselves in Joe and his family.

What did ice cream mean to you growing up?

I grew up in the totalitarian country (of Czechoslovakia), and like children all over the world, we loved ice cream. But everything in our world was without colors. Even the ice cream was black (brown) and white (and later, just a bit of pink). The best and most expensive Soviet ice cream, called “Morozenoje,” was made with two waffles and vanilla in between, similar to an ice cream sandwich. It took practice to bite into it without the ice cream shooting out the other side.  But even this treat paled in comparison to the rainbow of ice cream colors and flavors I discovered in America!

How did you arrive at the wonderful blend of fact and fiction and nonfiction?

My father-in-law is a famous scientist. So he always made sure my son studied over the summer and asked him lots of questions—are you reading, counting, learning?—and rewarded him for his efforts. That memory was the initial inspiration for the format of the book, that learning can be sweet and fun. Then, as I researched, I fell in love with the rich history of ice cream in America—all those hokeypokey men and immigrants in search of a democratic, communal connection through food. The rainbow of ice cream colors felt reflective of the American rainbow society. That really resonated for me as an immigrant myself.

How did you decide on the palette and art style for the book?

The art style and palette are meant to celebrate the colors of summer, of ice cream, of family. When I arrived here in the dark days of the Cold War, there were not so many colors and flavors, but thankfully, times and tastes change, and now we have mango, pineapple, cherry, and pistachio! All those beautiful colors swirled in my head as I painted the book.

Did you discover anything particularly fascinating while working on the book?

The modern American ice cream universe is forever fascinating because the flavors, colors, and choices are endless. You have to grow up here to navigate it all—cup or cone, sugar or waffle, one scoop or two, nuts or sprinkles, hot fudge or caramel, cream, cherry, credit or debit? The biggest ice cream I ever saw was a giant snow cone, in all colors of the rainbow. A child would need a shower and a bath to wash his face after eating those yellow and aqua colors! I was always touched by the jingle bells of ice cream trucks which magically materialized whenever my children exited the school building, finished a soccer game, or left for a fishing trip. It’s hard to say no when an ice cream truck is parked next to the ball field and all the players are getting a scoop. I thought, what a country caring about its young ones!

You’re a world traveler. Do you have any favorite places and flavors?

I’ve eaten ice cream at Fauchon on the boulevards of Paris, on the Lido in Venice, and at the Castle garden in Prague. But the best place for ice cream is without a doubt America. And the best people to eat ice cream with are your family! I will never forget having scoops of delicious ice cream in a place called “Blue Pig” in Croton, New York. Our children—wrapped in towels, with wet hair—would laugh themselves silly while devouring the colorful messy after-swimming treat…or magical fire fly-filled summer evenings in Madison, Wisconsin where families with grandparents, babies and dogs would gather in the parking lot of Michael’s Frozen Custard on Monroe Street to indulge in what felt like a sacred reunion—or summers on Cape May, in Florida, upstate New York, Texas (a lot of Texas), Ohio, Mississippi, California—all made more magical with scoops and scoops of colorful ice cream–the best summers ever.



UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed, and the following five people have randomly been selected as winners: Allison, Jillian, Helen, Kristine, Sandra. You've been emailed with instructions on claiming your prize. Thank you for participating, everyone, and happy summer reading!



I can still remember the

I can still remember the music playing down the street as the ice cream truck was approaching our street. The sound was music to our ears---we would all jump up and quickly ask our mom for a quarter hoping the truck wouldn't pass up our house. Sometimes it wouldn't stop (because money was tight). Oh, but on those days when we had money, those were the glory days of summer!!! I still remember walking up to the truck ordering my ice cream---all I could see we're the ladies legs because the window was low!!! Wow the things we remember:)

My favorite flavor was

My favorite flavor was chocolate on a cone. It would usually end up all over me---the summer heat would generally get to it before I could get to it.



Ive always loved mint

Ive always loved mint chocolate chip my mouth is watering just thinking about it



I love to eat chocolate ice

I love to eat chocolate ice cream it always taste so good on a hot summers day !!

My favorite flavor of ice

My favorite flavor of ice cream as a kid was vanilla with strawberry dip! Now I love a good hot fudge sundae!!!

My favorite ice cream is

My favorite ice cream is homemade vanilla! It's also my kids favorite along with some sprinkles on top!

Every summer my go to

Every summer my go to favorite ice cream is a soft serve vanilla with chocolate shots! I CRAVE it ALL summer!!!!!

My absolute favorite is

My absolute favorite is vanilla ice cream with peanut butter chunks in it topped with extra peanut butter spread and of course whipped cream

Rocky road

Rocky road

My favorite flavor of ice

My favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla with chocolate syrup.... Yummmy

My favorite ice cream is when

My favorite ice cream is when I was a kid neopollation cause we then got every color and flavor in one cone or bowl .

My favorite ice cream flavor

My favorite ice cream flavor is and has always been mint chocolate chip. For as long as I can remember that was the flavor I would pick.

My whole family loves

My whole family loves Birthday Cake ice cream, especially Mayfield brand!

My favorite ice cream to eat

My favorite ice cream to eat on a hot growing up was mint chocolate chip in a waffle cone. But what I ate most the time was screwball from the ice cream truck I would wait for it seemed like hours for it to get toy house

My favorite ice cream flavor

My favorite ice cream flavor is Strawberry! I love this flavor and it perfectly blends with other ice cream flavors like chocolate and vanilla! This will definitely beat the hot summer months!

My favorite ice cream flavor

My favorite ice cream flavor has always been Moose Tracks. Its a vanilla ice cream with mini peanut butter cups and chocolate chunks. Yum!

I love to eat black cherry

I love to eat black cherry ice cream or frozen yogurt in the summer. We have a local 50's ice cream parlor that I worked at as a teenager and still visit with my children. I love the ice cream creations and my kids love choosing songs on the jukebox!

I love setting up a little

I love setting up a little sundae station and letting the kids put their own toppings on it. I'm a fan of vanilla and strawberry ice cream

My brother and I loved cookie

My brother and I loved cookie dough ice cream we ate it with waffle cone bowls while watching the fireflies outside while the family sat on the front deck

My favorite ice cream to eat

My favorite ice cream to eat during summer months is vanilla ice cream but I mix in frozen berries :)

my favorite is vanilla with

my favorite is vanilla with chocolate syrup! Would love this book for my 6 year old!

We love simple Neapolitan

We love simple Neapolitan with extra drizzle of Hershey's chocolate syrup YUM!

My favorite flavor of ice

My favorite flavor of ice cream to make for a perfect relaxing evening after a hot day is CHOCOLATE!!! Any of it with chocolate if I have to compromise. lol

I love ice cream I could

I love ice cream I could never pick a favorite I will eat any as long as it isn't mint! I am an icecreamaholic hehe Thank you for the chance

Mint chocolate chip...but I'm

Mint chocolate chip...but I'm pretty sure at least 40% of my liking it has always been that bright green color.

Remember walking home from

Remember walking home from school n stopping at the filling station pretty much every day and getting a cherry vanilla come , great memories , and when I have a come or bowl the kid in me comes back

My favorite ice cream to get

My favorite ice cream to get during the summer as a kid was a tweety ice cream bar. I would search for quarters around the house when I heard the ice cream truck. Now that I'm older, I still love them but now I buy two, one for me and one for my daughter.