Květa Pacovská — intertwining poetic atmosphere and imagination in children's books

Květa Pacovská, an inspiration and reference for generations of picture book artists around the world, passed away on 6 February 2023. She leaves us beautiful illustrations, fruits of her playful imagination, that are internationally known for their geometric shapes and vibrant colours. Among them is, of course, our beloved ‘IBBY cat’.

“A picture book is the first art gallery a child visits.”

Květa Pacovská

Květa Pacovská was born on 28 July 1928 in Prague. She was a creative child, showing a love for the arts from a very early age. In 1947, she was admitted to the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, where she studied under the supervision of the renowned Czech modernist Emil Filla.

She was a multifaceted artist, producing not only paintings and graphic works, but also sculptures. In an interview with Le Monde in 2014, she said:

“People always ask me if I'm an illustrator, painter or sculptor. In reality, these three things are one and the same... I create worlds where you can walk around."

In 1961, she started drawing picture books for her own children. Her books merge the artistic tradition of children’s books illustration with influences from classical modern artists, such as Kandinsky, Klee and Miró. In the words of the Jury that awarded the 1992 Hans Christian Andersen Awards: “She operates in the domain between the free graphic art and illustration. She draws, paints, creates collages, does all conceivable things with paper, which, in her hands, becomes a playground for exciting experiments linking image and text.”


© 'Rotrothorn' by Květa Pacovská (Ravensburger)

She was a prolific author, with over 60 titles published along her life, including an extraordinary series of books on numbers, colours, shapes and the alphabet, which are considered an all-time reference for the youngest readers. Her books have a dynamic quality, where poetic atmosphere and imagination merge into unique works of art.


1 © Kókinos, 2-3 © minedition

Her memory will be forever associated with IBBY and our thoughts are with her family and loved ones. Thank you, Květa Pacovská, for your generosity for IBBY and for all the children of the world.

“The placing of colours one over the other. It depends on the relation, proportion, rhythm, size, amount and how we place colours together. It is like music. Each individual tone is beautiful by itself and in certain groupings we create new dimensions, harmony, disharmony. Symphonies, operas. And books for children.

Květa Pacovská

Text sources
IBBY archives and IBBY publication ‘The Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956-2002’ (2002)
Profile on Květa Pacovská, Memory of Nations



© Michael Neugebauer
© Michael Neugebauer