25 February 2011

vintage vendredi: m. sasek


I wanted this Vintage Vendredi to relate to San Fran somehow....and a book by children's author and illustrator M. Sasek popped into my mind pretty quickly.

Just look at this lovely little caption from the sleeve notes:
"City by the Golden Gate, Queen of the West, with only one drawback - "'tis hard to leave". M. Sasek echoes Kipling with more views than the 42 hills. The bridge across the bay; Golden Gate Park with 1,000,000 trees; Stow Lake and koala bears; Chinatown's Grant Avenue; Peking ducks and pagoda phone booths; Union Square, Presidio, Alcatraz, City Hall and Fisherman's Wharf.

Foggy day, bright blue sky - M. Sasek paints at cable-car slant all the famous landmarks. Pink, blue, gold horizons, a city most charming, a city most loved - This is San Francisco!"


M. Sasek is the pen name of Miroslav Sasek, a Czech artist who is most famous for his popular This Is... book series, which was published between 1959 and 1974. He originally studied to be an architect, but turned to painting with the creation of his first three travel books, called This is Paris, This is London, and This is Rome. He ended up writing fifteen more such stories.

Sasek spent years traveling to new places to find inspiration for his books. With nothing more than his art supplies and two suitcases in tow, he'd land in a city, take in the sights, then race back to his hotel to draw and paint and get every detail right. What a life!

"When I return home," remarked Mr. Sasek, "I'll unwind by picking mushrooms in the woods." Perhaps while he's there, he'll think of another place to visit and off he'll go on another journey.

Now these are the kind of books I would buy for children. Or, who am I kidding, for myself! Not only for their visual beauty and their virtual travel thrill -- but also just because Sasek sounds like a pretty cool guy. This interview describes him as "thin, well-tailored, and as bubbly as a glass of the best French champagne"!


I just wish I had more to share with you all -- not terribly many of his images are online! I can only imagine the wealth the actual books hold.

All of these images, unless otherwise linked, were found at this great website about M. Sasek.
There you can also find out where to purchase reissues of his books.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing! Your last couple of posts have made me very nostalgic for San Francisco. I have only been there once - for Spring Break one year in college, about a decade ago - but it was magical. These books are such a wonderful gift idea for any children or adults with wanderlust. Love the part about unwinding with some mushrooms in the forest. !!!!

  2. I love that part too, haha. I want to read all of these so badly! Almost as badly as I want to go to SF :)