Just Only John
Jack Kent ~ Parent's Magazine Press, 1968
For more on Jack Kent, read my article in the San Antonio Current.
Since getting hooked on Jack Kent, I've been hearing about this book from lots of readers but had been far too cheap to buy a copy online. As luck would have it, I found it today on the classics shelf of my local bookshop for the trifling amount of $1. It is a first edition sans a book jacket, but the coolest part is that it has a book plate in the back from Rosengren's Books, what was one of the last old school bookshops in San Antonio that has long since closed. An exbookseller myself, I love seeing these little reminders of bookstore times gone by... back when books were real treasures rather than commodities destined for the bargain section at Borders. Alas and alack.
It is easy to see why John is Jack's pièce de résistance. I might even stick this one in the top of the heap as far as all children's books are concerned.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, if you count Sundays and holidays, there was a little boy named John. He had been a little boy named John for over four years and was getting tired of it. Not that it wasn't a very nice thing to be. But sometimes he wondered what it would be like to be something else.
So at first he wonders what it would be like to be a wide array of animals, but that doesn't do it for him. Then he decides to pretend to be different things, but...
"You can't find out what it's like to be something by pretending," he said. "You only find out what it's like to pretend to be something. It's not the same thing."
He seeks help from a neighborhood witch who casts a spell that has John rethinking wanting to be something else, because after all...
Be yourself, because someone has to, and you're the closest.
The story is adorable (of course) and the illustrations bright and stellar. I am so thrilled to finally have this title in my possession for a song that I am newly invigorated, and plan to hit all my favorite hot spots first thing in the morning. That's the thing about getting obsessed with collecting vintage children's books. The supplies are endless, and every day you don't go and check the shelves, is a day that someone else has gone home with the prize that was meant for you. Oh, the cosmic turmoil...
Jack Kent's Twelve Days of Christmas
I Was Walking Down the Road
The Grown-Up Day
The Fox and the Crow
The Biggest Shadow in the Zoo
The Animobile Book
Jack Kent's Book of Nursery Tales
Dooly and the Snortsnoot
Cindy Lou and the Witch's Dog
Jack Kent's Valentine Sticker Book
The Bremen-town Musicians
Fly Away Home
Piggy Bank Gonzales
Socks for Supper
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