Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Ken Stark  

Pen Name: None


Born: N/A


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''''' *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