Kristin's Author Blog

I found my books in the California Academy of Sciences library :)

March 6th, 2009


Have you explored the recently reopened California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park? It’s a fantastic, interactive place, with an indoor rainforest, a planetarium, a knobby green roof (which you can inspect from an observation deck that offers a view of the entire city as well) and an entire subterranean level full of shimmering aquariums. It really takes all day to see everything. The exhibits are incredibly well-designed, and really encourage curiosity. On the top floor, there’s even a Naturalist Center, where I was happy to discover four of my books, as well as lots of other Dawn Publications titles, in the children’s library. Always fun to say hello to them when I run into my books in unexpected places.

The Forever Forest wins Moonbeam Award

November 3rd, 2008


Forever ForestThe Forever Forest was recently awarded the MoonBeam Children’s Book Award (Silver) for Environmental Issues.

About the Moonbeam Award
Presented by Jenkins Group and Independent Publisher Online, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading. Awards will be given in 30 categories covering the full range of subjects, styles and age groups that children’s books are written and published in today.

The Forever Forest Reviewed by Audubon Magazine

October 23rd, 2008

Forever Forest“When Peter arrives in Costa Rica, he’s greeted by the biggest butterfly he’s ever seen: a blue morpho, with shiny turquoise wings. It’s just one of a variety of creatures he encounters during his first trip to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, a real tropical preserve in Monteverde that kids in 44 countries, and counting, have raised money to protect. The Forever Forest’s expressive dialogue will enthrall readers, many of whom will identify with Peter’s excitement about spotting animals and plants he’s never seen before. Upon inspecting what appears to be a tangle of moss hanging from a tree, he exclaims, “Hey! The moss has arms!” only to learn that it’s the camouflaged hair of a two-toed sloth. Pratt-Serafini’s playful, vibrant watercolor and mixed-media illustrations capture the essence of each forest denizen Peter spies, including saucer-eyed kinkajous (members of the raccoon family) that feast on bananas against a starry sky. Descriptions of species that accompany each picture will further educate kids about cloudforest biodiversity. An informative epilogue tracks the progress of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest project—proof that to protect something you love, age doesn’t matter.”

—Julie Leibach

Audubon Magazine
September-October 2008 issue
pg. 98

The Forever Forest
wins iParenting Media Award

August 8th, 2008


Forever Forest The Forever Forest: Kids Save a Tropical Treasure was recently recognized as a 2008 Outstanding Product in the Book category by, a Disney Internet Group media property. iParenting Media’s Award Program provides a credible and objective method of determining the best products and recognizes those products with their iParenting Media Award. They are dedicated to informing, inspiring and uniting the parenting community we serve via their multiple media platforms of the Internet, syndicated newspaper column, radio show and video. Thanks, IPMA!

The Teachers Who Change Lives

May 10th, 2008


This weekend, my husband Gabriel, and our good friend Michael Booth, drove out to Marthasville, MO. Our 9th grade biology teacher, Ted Munnecke, and his wife Martha, were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Gabriel took this picture of me, Ted Munnecke, and Michael. It was a great evening, even if it was raining like crazy.

Every teacher wants their students to learn and succeed. But here and there, the academic universe glimmers with educators who inspire their students to think big, to be curious, and to actually love learning. Ted Munnecke (who retired in 1997 and now enjoys exploring the world and restoring historic log cabins) was that kind of teacher. Mr. Munnecke, or “Munn” as we call him, taught 9th grade biology, as well as more advanced classes like Marine Ecology, at Principia Upper School. He had already been teaching for a generation by the time I walked into his class as a freshman in 1990. In fact, Gabriel’s mom, Anna Lisa, was one of his students. Yet he still started each lesson with a look on his face that suggested he was about to tell us the most exciting secrets ever.

At least once a week, Munn sent us out into the woods with journal and pencil for solo time, showing us that our own observations were valid and worth recording. He also taught us about rainforests. First we learned about biodiversity, and then we learned about deforestation. On the back of the test for that unit, I sketched a tree falling over. Munn stopped by my desk and whispered, “it doesn’t have to be that way.” That simple thought helped inspire me to create my first book, A Walk in the Rainforest.

He also started the Teton Trip, which is an annual epic “field trip” to the Teton Science School in Kelly, Wyoming – during the last week in January. Principia has been sending juniors and seniors on this adventure since 1982. The idea is to make connections between art, science, and writing, as well as to connect the students to themselves, each other, and their environment. I started to ask big questions out there as a kid. (I love that I get to teach art on this program now that I am out of school and “all grown up”. Michael Booth, who got his Ph.D. in forest ecology from Yale, teaches the writing workshops. This year we co-wrote Wide-Eyed Weasels as a text book for this awesome program.)

My senior year, 1994, I took Munn’s Marine Ecology class. He let me paint an enormous coral reef mural down both sides of the hallway outside his classroom for my senior project. Now you can see how I was inspired to write my second book, A Swim through the Sea. He taught us about Jacques Cousteau, (who I eventually got to meet in person) and made us construct 3D models of imaginary filter feeder species.

I hope every kid gets at least one teacher like this.

School Visit: Richmond Heights, MO

May 9th, 2008


I am excited that this year it’s working out to visit more local schools here in the St. Louis area! Today I spent the afternoon at MRH Elementary in Richmond Heights, MO, which is only about 15 minutes from my house. I gave two presentations – one for the 2nd and 3rd graders and the other for the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. Gloria Neiman, who kindly organized this visit for me, ordered about 35 paperbacks and raffled them off to the lucky students. Above, you can see the kids patiently waiting for me to autograph their books. Thanks MRH!

Book Signing: St. Charles, MO

May 3rd, 2008


Today I did another book signing with Rachel Crandell, the co-author of The Forever Forest. This time we met up at Main Street Books in St. Charles, MO. Rachel arranged this event, and it was good to catch up with her, since she has also been doing all kinds of school visits with the new book. She had just returned from a week of Earth Day events in Macomb, IL. I think with two of us touring, we will really get the message out about this book and the Children’s Rainforest. 🙂

School Visit: Mehlville, Missouri

April 22nd, 2008

Happy Earth Day! I visited Hagemann Elementary School in Mehlville, Missouri today, where I talked with the fourth and fifth graders in the library. They were a great group, and asked lots of good questions about the writing and illustrating process. Some of the kids even took notes as I spoke. I could tell there were lots of prospective authors and artists in this bunch!


I shared my new book, The Forever Forest, with them. This book tells the inspiring story of the Swedish second grade class who began a movement in 1987 to protect Costa Rican rainforests. Twenty years later, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest preserve in Monteverde, Costa Rica is now more than 54,000 acres – the largest private forest reserve in Central America.


In the photo above, I am showing the students a picture I took of the Children’s Rainforest when I went there last year to do research for the new book. One of the teachers said she had actually visited the Children’s Rainforest herself. I wouldn’t be surprised if this sharp group of kids figured out their own way to help this special place.

In the weeks before my visit, they started working on a pretty cool art project. First, they read my two books Salamander Rain: A Lake & Pond Journal and Saguaro Moon: A Desert Journal. Next, they got busy making their own habitat dioramas with sculpted animals inside. They were still working on painting the habitats, but in the picture below, you can see some of the animals they made. Thanks to Mary Ellen Kopsas for organizing this visit.


Book Signing: St. Louis Zoo

April 20th, 2008


To help celebrate Earth Day, Rachel Crandell and I were invited to do a book signing with our new book, The Forever Forest: Kids Save a Tropical Treasure, and my very first book, A Walk in the Rainforest. 🙂

School Visit: Monterrey, Mexico

April 19th, 2008

Buenos dias! Just a couple of days ago, I returned from visiting the American School in Monterrey, Mexico. I took my husband Gabriel with me, and we had a fantastic time. We flew down from St. Louis, MO on Wednesday 09 April, and got caught in the massive American Airlines flight cancellation surprise. Fortunately, my dad is a pilot for Northwest Airlines, so he was kind enough to bail us out with some standby passes. Thanks dad! It took us a little longer, and we got to visit a few extra airports, but we arrived in Mexico on the morning of the next day. That left just enough time for me to still meet with all the kids. Yay!


These are some of the kids. Aren’t they adorable? I spent two days at their school. I gave presentations for K-5 in the auditorium, where I talked about my new book, The Forever Forest: Kids Save a Tropical Treasure, which is all about the Children’s Eternal Rainforest in Monteverde, Costa Rica.


The teachers were all very friendly, and one even grabbed me a chai at the coffee shop across the street from the school. I was so grateful to actually have made it to the school that I forgot about how little sleep I had gotten in the process. 🙂 The friendly tech staff did a quick job of setting up my laptop as soon as I arrived, even though I don’t speak more than two dozen words in Spanish.


I visited the Prekinder kids in their classrooms. I brought a giant stuffed clownfish from the library and read them A Swim through the Sea. I couldn’t believe how smart these little ones were. They asked some pretty clever questions that I hadn’t heard before, in all of my many school visits. My favorite one was: “do you know what’s inside the fish?” I was glad I had an illustration of a jellyfish in my book, so I could show him that we can see right inside some fish. 🙂


This is my marvelous host, Ms. Fiona. She is the librarian at ASFM (American School Foundation of Mexico). She, and her wonderful assistants, did all the organizing for this trip, and took great care of us while we were visiting Mexico. On Saturday, Fiona took Gabriel and me to see the Diego Rivera exhibit at the MARCO (the modern art museum).
I loved it. We ended up seeing the whole museum, which also included an exhibit of other Mexican painters, and a whole floor upstairs for women artists. I wasn’t all that familiar with Mexican art, and had a great time soaking it all in.


One of my favorite things I got to do with the students was a nature journaling workshop on Friday afternoon. Fiona had the third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers each select one or two students to participate, and I ended up with 24 kids in the library. First, I talked with them about what skills are needed to write and illustrate non-fiction books. What do scientists do? What do artists do? Then I asked the kids what qualities both artists and scientists need. Right away, one girl raised her hand and said “observation!” Well, that made it easy. Time to go outside and practice those observation skills.


I took them out to a courtyard, where we observed a large, flowering cactus. First we looked closely at different parts of the plant. Then we sat down in the shade and wrote a list of five things we noticed about the cactus. Finally, we drew a far-away view of the cactus, and then a close-up of part of it. The kids really got into it. Several of them started asking questions and forming hypotheses about things such as why the flowers grow on the outside of the cactus, or why smaller plants grow in the shade of the cactus arms. This was my favorite part of the whole visit. Thanks, ASFM!