Jack Kent

March 10, 1920 to October 18, 1985

Jack Kent (1920–85) was an American author‐illustrator of humorous fables, folk tales, rhymes, and other picture books.

Born March 10, 1920, in Burlington, Iowa, Kent dropped out of high school at the age of 15 and began a career as a freelance commercial artist, working in that field until he joined the U.S. Army in 1941. His first nationally recognized work was the comic strip “King Aroo” which was syndicated and distributed internationally from 1950 to 1965. He began writing and illustrating children's books in 1968 and continued until his death in 1985. He did the pictures for 40 children's books of his own and illustrated 22 books for other authors.

I love the characters he drew. Most were small and roly-poly.  With simple line drawings and a limited, pastel palette he was still able to show great emotion through facial expressions and body language. The pictures were always comfortable and reader-friendly as they supported and enriched the stories.

Many of Jack Kent’s books had a simple lesson; The Christmas Pinata is one of the best. A cracked pot ends up as a piñata and realizes that his life worked out to be useful even though not as he expected.  I’ve used it many times to reinforce the idea that “everyone has their place”.

Perhaps my personal favorite is Clotilda’s Magic. Clotilda is a bug-sized fairy godmother who is feeling sorry for herself because no one needs her anymore. Her interactions with a little boy who doesn’t believe in her magic and a respectful little girl provide many opportunities for character building discussions.

A comment by Clotilda could refer to the works of Jack Kent.

(I marvel at the art of it).
The world is full of magic
And it's magic that we're part of it.