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Ludmila Zeman Biography (1947-)


Czech-born Canadian author Ludmila Zeman has lived in the world of professional storytellers since she was a child. Her father, Karel Zeman, was a well-known creator of films for children in Czechoslovakia. During school vacations, Zeman spent most of her time at her father's studio, where she helped to create puppets and paint backgrounds. When she was nineteen, Zeman tried her hand at building the puppets for and animating her own short film. The resulting creation was sold to Czech television. Zeman also illustrated a popular Czech children's book, Linda, the Gardener's Cat, before an offer to teach at the Emily Carr School of Art in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, led her to leave her native country. Since arriving in Canada, Zeman and her husband have continued to make films, and Zeman has become the author of several self-illustrated books in English.

Zeman drew on the folklore of the Middle East for two trilogies of picture books. The first, a retelling of the ancient Mesopotamian legend of Gilgamesh, won her the prestigious Governor General's Award for Illustration. The second trilogy retells the legends of Sinbad's adventures, which were originally recounted in The Thousand and One Nights. Throughout these books, Zeman draws on the art as well as the stories of the Middle East. The "lavish" illustrations are "framed with designs reminiscent of Persian carpets," Ann Ketcheson observed in a Resource Links review of Sinbad's Secret. Margaret A. Chang, writing in School Library Journal about the same work, found the book's "richly colored illustrations, detailed, coherent, and carefully composed, . . . reminiscent of Persian miniatures." Zeman's texts for the "Sinbad" trilogy were also praised. The original stories from The Thousand and One Nights are full of adventure, and Zeman's writing reflects this: it is "exciting, fast moving and lyrical," Isobel Lang wrote of Sinbad in the Land of Giants in Resource Links. Yet, as Ketcheson observed, "Zeman retains the somewhat formal speech expected in a classic story."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, November 15, 1992, Nancy McCray, review of Lord of the Sky, p. 615; August, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Sinbad in the Land of Giants, p. 2126.

Books in Canada, July, 2001, review of Sinbad in the Land of Giants, p. 33.

Canadian Children's Literature, spring, 2001, review of Sinbad: From the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, pp. 169-171.

Canadian Literature, autumn, 1995, Gernot R. Wieland, review of The Revenge of Ishtar, pp. 146-147.

Canadian Materials, January, 1993, review of Gilgamesh the King, pp. 20-21.

Maclean's, November 22, 1999, Patricia Chisholm, Patricia Hluchy, and Barbara Wickens, review of Sinbad, p. 98.

Publishers Weekly, January 3, 2000, review of Sinbad, p. 75; February 24, 2003, review of Sinbad's Secret, p. 74.

Quill and Quire, September, 1993, review of The Revenge of Ishtar, p. 67; June, 1997, review of The First Red Maple Leaf, pp. 63-64; February, 1999, review of Sinbad, p. 45; June, 2001, review of Sinbad in the Land of Giants, p. 51.

Resource Links, August, 1997, review of The First Red Maple Leaf, p. 255; February, 2000, review of Sinbad, p. 6; October, 2001, Isobel Lang, review of Sinbad in the Land of Giants, p. 7; April, 2003, Ann Ketcheson, review of Sinbad's Secret, pp. 50-51.

School Library Journal, June, 1993, Nancy Palmer, review of Gilgamesh the King, p. 124; January, 2000, Grace Oliff, review of Sinbad, p. 127; August, 2001, Ann Welton, review of Sinbad in the Land of Giants, p. 174; March, 2003, Margaret A. Chang, review of Sinbad's Secret, p. 225.


Canadian Children's Book Centre, http://www.bookcentre.ca/ (April 20, 2004), "Ludmila Zeman."

Tundra Books Web Site, http://www.tundrabooks.com/ (January 14, 2004), interview with Zeman.

Writers Union of Canada Web Site, http://www.writersunion.ca/ (January 14, 2004), "Ludmila Zeman."*

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Carlos Watson Biography - Was a Student Journalist to Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) BiographyLudmila Zeman (1947-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights