Exciting News!

A New Picture Book by KT Johnston

written for all ages, including readers 8-12

published by Capstone Editions


“RAILWAY JACK is a human story, a story of  resilience, a story of a dependent relationship, the human/animal connection, and most of all, a story of great friendship.”

—Kevin Kling, author, storyteller and playwright

cover image © Capstone Editions
cover image © Capstone Editions

Well, monkey. Have I just bought myself more trouble?”

RAILWAY JACK is the true story of the remarkable partnership between a railwayman and a baboon in 1880s South Africa.

When Jim Wide lost his legs in an accident, he had to find clever ways to get around and perform his work. He obtained a very unusual, and very smart, helper: a baboon named Jack. But not everyone was happy to see a baboon at the rail yard signal hut, and Jim was fired. He pleaded with the authorities to give Jack a chance and they agreed to a test. But what about a monkey’s monkey business?? Jim and Jack’s futures lay in the hands—er, opposable thumbs—of a baboon!

RAILWAY JACK should entertain and enlighten readers of any age, and provides several topics of conversation for young people and their adults.

Railway Jack

I like to tell little-known tales from the past; stories about special animals who positively impacted the lives of everyday people, and in doing so, made a mark on history—and in a way, on humanity itself.

Jack was exactly that.


courtesy of César Samaniego
© Capstone Editions
courtesy of César Samaniego
© Capstone Editions

Available for Preorder

Releasing    Feb. 1, 2020


If your community or school libraries don’t have copies yet, contact their circulation desks or check their websites for instructions on suggesting titles for their collections.

illustration © Capstone Editions
illustration © Capstone Editions

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Reviews greatly appreciated!

Book Reviews

  • “It is a fascinating, heartwarming story that I look forward to sharing. What a delightful way to bring history to life, and to capture the imagination of a child.”

  • “This is my new favorite non-fiction book for middle graders. The author spent a large amount of time researching and cites sources. Speaking of which, this is an excellent introduction as to how to do exactly that for children on the cusp of writing papers.”

  • “At the end of the book there is a nice section that highlights the history of service animals. This would be great in a second-fifth grade classroom. As an adult reader I really enjoyed it!”

  • “Wonderful story. Must read to feel the bond between two friends of different species. Thanks to the author for immemorialising this story.”

  • “I loved how the author and illustrator showed the relationship between the two. Jack was not only a service animal to Jim, but also an emotional companion. I enjoyed the extensive back matter as well: author’s note; photos; information on primates; glossary; discussion questions; history of service animals; internet resources; and a bibliography.”


& Pins


I love to be mind-blown and heart-torn.

Current favorite author: Yann Martel

Current favorite movie: A Street Cat Named Bob

About KT

KT Johnston writes historical narrative nonfiction. KT’s interest in the past developed from a sweeping curiosity about the way things were and how history has impacted the way things are. She enjoys feeding her interests by traveling, whether she’s touring a historical site, experiencing a foreign land, or being transported by a good book. Curiosity, the magic of imagining, and the treasure of uncovering untold tidbits from time drive her literary inspiration…and usually there’s a special animal involved.

KT was born in Minnesota. She earned a degree in biology and conducted wildlife behavior studies for the U.S. Forest Service in Montana and the research department at the Minnesota Zoo. She also researched and developed materials for the zoo’s education department. When she married, KT switched to a more settled corporate career, and for the next phase of life, she and her husband raised two children—and several litters of Curly-coated retrievers. Competing in the show ring, field events and obedience trials was a family hobby.

KT lives in Minneapolis, where the four-legged members of her family have always been special. She hopes to inspire others to be curious about our world as well, one true story at a time.

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