What’s the best way to draw a chicken? Pierre Pratt should know: he had to draw thousands of little chickens in Uncle Henry’s Dinner Guests (1990)! Like the work of all great illustrators, Pierre’s art is truly unique. He creates using a mixture of oil pastel and acrylic. Strong lines and bright colors, characteristic of his style, command admiration. Pierre draws his inspiration from painters such as Georges Rouault, Matisse, Edward Hopper and Jean Dubuffet. In 1992 he was the recipient of the first-ever UNICEF-Bologna Book Fair Illustrator of the Year prize.
Pierre grew up in the suburbs of Montreal. When he was young, he loved art and was fascinated by the images in books. “Tintin was my favorite,” he recalls. “I read it over and over. I always said I wanted to be an illustrator. As far back as I can remember, I always drew. When my father took me to hockey games, I would go home and draw the players! As a teenager, I wrote and illustrated my own comic strip.”
After studying graphic design in college, Pierre began his career in magazine illustration, which eventually led him to children’s books. Uncle Henry’s Dinner Guests won both a Governor General’s Award and a Mr. Christie Award for Illustration in 1991. Pierre’s first excursion as author/illustrator, Follow That Hat! (1992), was awarded Bratislava’s Golden Apple Award. “I wanted to do a book about transportation,” he explains. “Once, a friend and I were in a car when a hat went sailing by. I said, ‘Follow that hat’—and he said, ‘There's your story!’”
Although making a picture book can be a long, painstaking process, Pierre genuinely loves his work. “I have lots of ideas, but sometimes it's difficult to get them out. Once I start working, though, the ideas usually begin to flow.” He also loves music and has taught himself to play all kinds of instruments. “My favorite one now is the accordion!” he laughs. “Often, while I'm waiting for a painting to dry, I have fun playing the accordion.”