Do you remember the very first children’s picture book Dawn ever published, A Walk in the Rainforest, written and illustrated (with magic marker) by the talented 14 year-old Kristin Joy Pratt? Or its stunning sequel, A Swim through the Sea, written and illustrated (this time in water color) when Kristen was all of 16? Thousands of children were first introduced to the rainforest and ocean habitats by these delightful books, and many a teacher based their lesson plans with young Kristin’s books as the centerpiece. Both books are now classics.
She was lauded as an “Eco Star” by the Cousteau Society, and inducted into the Kid Heroes Hall of Fame by E: The Environmental Magazine. Her love of nature was infectious. Her “can do” attitude toward life helped make her popular and inspired other children to use their own unique talents to support nature.
Two of her books are model nature journals: Salamander Rain: A Lake and Pond Journal, and Saguaro Moon: A Desert Journal. Her most recent book, The Forever Forest, is a “hike” through the Children’s Eternal Rainforest preserve in Costa Rica—the preserve that donations from children all over the world helped make happen.
In all, Kristen has now written and illustrated 15 books, including Papa’s Opera, the true story of what happened when Mozart took his son Karl to see the “The Magic Flute” which Mozart had just composed.
We caught up with Kristen recently on the Principia College, Illinois, campus where she is currently teaching full time. “I’m not done with the book illustration world, but I’ve decided my art needs more school,” she said. Beginning in January, 2012, she will be working towards an MFA degree through the Vermont College of Fine Art in Montpelier, Vermont.
Unlike many art schools, the Vermont program has a significant writing component, something Kristen is happy about. And unlike many other art schools with an exclusively residency-based program, Vermont arranges with a qualified, paid mentor to tutor students where they live, meaning that Kristen can continue to live primarily in her home town of St. Louis, Missouri. An additional advantage, she said, is that the program “encourages lots of connections in your own community.”