Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Ken Stark  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Children; Children;

Born: N/A

-- Website --
-- Ken Stark on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Stark grew up in Kankakee.

Biographical and Professional Information

Ken Stark is an award-winning book illustrator, editorial cartoonist, painter, and freehand graphic artist who has mostly lived and worked in rural Wisconsin and Illinois. The lifelong artist, now of southwestern Wisconsin, is largely self-taught. ''Oh Brother!'', the first book Ken both wrote and illustrated--gives a true glimpse of Ken and his brother's 1950s country life in rural Illinois which fostered their art careers. ''Orphan Train'' (by Verla Kay), the third inter-generational history-based book he illustrated, follows three orphans as they ride the orphan train west from New York City. Ken illustrated the book ''Orphan Train'' as he felt a kinship with the children in the book. As a young child, Ken stayed five months at a children's home when his mother was ill.The first book Ken illustrated was ''Growing Seasons''. It was written by his former long-time neighbor Elsie Lee Splear and was named an International Reading Associations Teachers' Choice, a Smithsonian Magazine Best Book of the Year, a CCBC Children's Choice, a Society of Midland Authors Honor Book, a Wisconsin Library Association Outstanding Children's Title for Illustration, and was chosen for the Illinois State Historical Library collection of history of 20th Century farm life. The paintings from Ken Stark's books have been shown in museums and galleries and are available for future exhibitions.Ken paints in rural Kankakee, Illinois and in Southwestern Wisconsin where he and his wife have reconstructed an 1800's log house.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Growing Seasons
ISBN: 0399234608

Putnam Juvenile. 2000

The author portrays a vivid picture of the life she and her sisters led growing up on a farm in the early part of the 20th century. 10,000 first printing.

Orphan Train
ISBN: 0399236139

Putnam Juvenile. 2003

After struggling to survive on the streets, orphans Lucy, Harold, and David find it fortunate to be cared for by the local orphanage, but when they head out on the orphan train, they come to realize that different farming families will make specific selections and cause the break-up of what remains of their own family.

Seeing the Elephant: A Story of the Civil War
ISBN: 0374380244

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). 2007

Young Izzie wishes he could join the Union Army with his brothers, Ario and Cal. He wonders what it would be like to "see the elephant"―soldier talk for going into battle for the first time. But it seems the closest Izzie will ever get to battle is visiting wounded soldiers at a Washington, D.C., hospital, where his aunt works as an Army nurse. When Izzie meets a wounded Rebel soldier who will soon be sent to prison, he realizes that the war may not be as simple as he once believed, and "seeing the elephant" takes on a whole new meaning.

Based on family history, Pat Hughes's beautifully crafted story is complemented by Ken Stark's exceptional watercolor paintings.

Seeing the Elephant is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Oh, Brother!
ISBN: 0399237666

G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers. 2003

Set on a farm in rural Illinois in 1952, two brothers, age nine and ten, turn their everyday, simple lives into challenging adventures thanks to their active imaginations.

Marching to Appomattox: The Footrace That Ended the Civil War
ISBN: 0399242120

G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers. 2009

We always hear about how wars start, but how they end can be just as fascinating. That is certainly the case with America's Civil War. After the fall of Richmond, Robert E. Lee and his Confederate troops were racing toward North Carolina for supplies and reinforcements. Ulysses S. Grant's Union troops were determined to stop them. Both sides were certain they would prevail, yet after fighting with all his heart and soul, Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House. What made him do that?

Find out how geography, luck, perseverance, and compassionate diplomacy by Lee, Grant, and Abraham Lincoln combined to change the course of our nation's history.


Growing Seasons

  • Outstanding Children's Book for Illustration, Wisconsin Library Association
  • Marching to Appomattox

  • Beacon of Freedom Award, Williamsburg Regional Library and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2011

    Speaking Engagements

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