Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just Only John

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...

Also by:
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
Mr. Meebles
Cindy Lou and the Witch's Dog
The Blah
Jack Kent's Valentine Sticker Book
The Bremen-town Musicians
Round Robin
Fly Away Home
Fat Cat
Piggy Bank Gonzales
Socks for Supper


Read along on Facebook, tumblr, Twitter and Etsy


Nick Sung said...

What a beautiful book! Thank you so much for sharing it!

Grace said...

Glad there are folks out there that think books are still treasures.
Loving our newest treasure, Be Nice Spiders that I won - thanks for giving away some of your treasures.

Nicole said...

I finally found our first Jack Kent book at a library sale a month or so ago.

My older son has been obsessed with James Stevenson (Quick! Turn the Page! and Could Be More especially), so you may want to check him out :)

Antmusic said...

I grew up with the Little Golden Book & Record of Jack Kent's "There's No Such Thing as a Dragon" and I listened to it WAY TOO MUCH... or not enough. It had and extremely cute unique song on it too. I wish they would release those original recordings on CD. I have collected a lot of Jack Kent's books for my kids (via Goodwill and eBay lots), but I haven't even seen "Just Only John" before.

Carolyne said...

I loved that book when I was a kid! The pictures are so expressive! Thanks for sharing!

blogbrarian said...

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this books when I was growing up. My mom saved it for me and I read it to my own kids. Thanks, Mom.

r8ermom said...

ooh, so glad i stumbled upon your blog from a thread of other blogs i've been reading tonight. what a gem. you have a new regular reader! i, too, go crazy for vintage books for my kids. and boy, do i know what you mean about hitting the "hot spots" as often as possible. now i don't feel so obsessive about my little "hunts."

Pardon My French said...

That's a great find!

Joanna said...

Thank you so much for reviewing this book! My son John's first birthday is in a few days and I was trying to decide what book to get him. I found a decent used version of this online and can't wait to give it to him.
p.s. Antmusic - I also hearted "There's No Such Thing as a Dragon"!

Burgin Streetman said...

so good to hear all the positive memories. Thanks guys... and happy birthday john!

Janna said...

Have you read Jack Kent's "Joey Runs Away"? I think it would be a great story for you and your son, although maybe he's getting a little too old now. It was one of my favorites when I was very little. It's about a little kangaroo who runs away from his mother trying to find somewhere else to live, only to realize of course that his mother's pouch is best.

Amanda said...

Probably my favorite book until I was old enough for Asimov.

Jim S-- said...

My father was prone to cursing, insulting his children, and calling us pretty horrible names. We had a copy of this book and we'd all had it read to us by our mother, and a running joke in our household as we got older was that if the events of the story would've happened to any of us, we'd have each been turned into such things as a "stupid little piece of sh*t" or a "horse's ass."

It's still a charming children's book.

Allen Knutson said...

My favorite thing is the important Daddy with his name on the door. (We see the door from the inside, where it says "DADDY" backwards.)

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