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

  • “Affection radiates throughout the straightforward text and Samaniego’s close, expressive illustrations…. A warm, engaging tale of the bond between a resourceful man and his service animal.”

    Kirkus Reviews
  • “In the annals of service animals, there can be but few to equal Jack…”

    John Peters
  • “A human story, a story of resilience, the human/animal connection, and most of all, a story of great friendship.”

    Kevin Kling
    master storyteller, author, playwright
  • “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.”

  • “It deals with not giving up, even when things are against you. It shows that people with disabilities can do whatever they put their minds to as long as they have the necessary supports in place. It also shows how important support animals are in the lives of those who need them…. A great book for public, school and classroom libraries.”

  • “What a super cool way to tell younger children about a piece of history.”

  • “It can be very easy for others to write off those with disabilities as being incapable of certain jobs or activities but Jim and Jack’s story puts to bed those sorts of ideas.”

  • “The story is well told and the photographs and information on the real Jack at the end is an added treasure.”

  • “The back matter in this story is AMAZING and I absolutely loved the real photos of Jack and Jim.”


& 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

Not long ago, I dug out my childhood memory box looking for a couple stories I remembered writing, wondering if I’d kept them. I had—as well as over a dozen others. I had forgotten how many I’d written, and how many of them were about animals.

I shouldn’t be surprised, though, because animals have always been in my heart. I earned a degree in biology and conducted wildlife behavior studies for the Forest Service and the MN Zoo. I developed materials for the zoo’s education department as well. After that, I chose the corporate world for more stability, married, and raised two children, now grown. We’ve never been without one or more dogs, and for some time, competed with our Curly-coated retrievers in the show ring, field events and obedience trials.

When my empty nest left me searching for myself, I began writing, and I realize now that narration has always been there, waiting inside for me to notice it.

Why historical nonfiction? I’d have to say it hasn’t been intentional; it’s just what knocks on my heart to come out. I’ve always been curious about the way things were, and history has a lot to tell us about the way things are. I feel my stories advocate for unheard voices whose lives may not have been inherently spectacular, but nevertheless made a mark on history, and in a way, perhaps even on humanity itself. These, the magic of imagining, and the treasure of uncovering untold tidbits from time are what drive my literary inspiration.

I hope my writing will inspire others to be curious about our world as well, one true story at a time.

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