Crawfordsville, Indiana is a small college town in the middle of flat Midwestern countryside. That's where I grew up, surrounded by cornfields, big backyards, and books. My family's house was full of books since my father taught at the college and my mother was a children's librarian. So I read a lot. I read as I soaked in the bathtub, and I read in bed at night. I read in the back yard, and I read propped up on my elbows as I lay on my stomach in the sun. Once I tried balancing a book on my handlebars as I rode my bike. (Not recommended.) I often said I wanted to be a writer, but it was a long time before I actually became one.
Today, I live in Washington, DC and write nonfiction, the stories of real people and events. Recently I've met one of the most interesting characters in American history, Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States. He lived one hundred years ago, but he seemed quite alive to me as I was writing about him. Theodore--or Teedie as he was called when he was young--was a weak and sickly child. But he boxed, lifted weights, hiked, and rode horseback to make himself stronger and went on to become one of our most adventurous U.S. presidents.
I didn't like my history classes when I was in school. They were all about memorizing dates and what I considered boring details. Later, though, I realized that history is all about people--idealistic, ambitious, sometimes vain, sometime bright, sometimes ordinary, sometimes successful, sometimes failures. People like us. When I write about people from the past, I like to know about their weaknesses, as well as their strengths. After all, who wants to read about someone who is always perfect?
|Theodore Roosevelt: Champion of the American Spirit
Ages 10-14 (Hardcover, 2003; Publisher: Clarion; ISBN: 0618142649)
Featured on NBC's The Today Show--an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award Winner
- starred review, School Library Journal
"Kraft ...does an excellent job of portraying Roosevelt's political career, his heroic leadership of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, and his vigorous pursuit of outdoor activities…highly recommended."
Kraft has a knack for beginning chapters with a storyteller's flair, drawing readers into hear what Roosevelt will do next.... An informative and entertaining introduction to one of America's most dynamic presidents."
"A lively and totally engrossing biography."
- Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award
|Sensational Trials of the 20th Century
Grades 5-10 (Paperback-2001; Publisher: Polaris; ISBN: 0590372068; Hardcover-1998; Publisher: Scholastic; ISBN: 0-590-37205-X)
A dramatic recounting of eight of America's most important legal battles, including the trials of Scopes, Brown v. Board of Education, Watergate, and O. J. Simpson.
- School Library Journal
"…riveting, atmospheric account of eight American trials…Kraft has created a rich social, historical, and literary work neither the curious reader nor the researcher will want to put down." - Booklist
Mother Jones: One Woman's Fight for Labor
Ages 10-14 (Hardcover -1995, Publisher: Clarion; ISBN: 0-395-67163-9)
An engrossing account of the life of Mother Jones, the eccentric, outspoken, and progressive champion of workers' rights for America's laborers.
- Smithsonian Magazine
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