We’re no fools. We know that flying with children can be stressful even when everything goes according to plan. Tack on flight delays, cancellations, inclimate weather, tight connections and meltdowns into the experience, and it can be truly awful.

At Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), we wanted to play a small part in helping parents get to their destinations (relatively) stress-free. To do that, we partnered with local Jacksonville illustrator Jack Spellman to create a 24-page “Fun at JAX Airport” children’s activity book. The free book, which is available from any of our airport ambassadors, is appropriate for children up to age eight.


In addition to coloring custom illustrations depicting activity around the airport, the book is designed to help children get a better understanding of the entire travel experience. Kids can select which items to pack for their trip, determine the quickest line from the ticket counter to their plane and label items they see on the air field outside of the terminal. There’s even something for adults. Can you find the five references from the Bill Murray film, “What About Bob”?

Can you spot five references to "What About Bob"?
Can you spot five references to “What About Bob”?

Jack is a well-known Jacksonville illustrator whose unique vision for the project combined a sense of humor with illustrations that incorporated the traveling experience from a child’s point-of-view.

We had an opportunity to speak with Jack about creating the Activity Book, and wanted to share for all to see.

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Jack Spellman’s early sketches for the JAX Airport Activity Book.
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Jack Spellman’s early sketches for the JAX Airport Activity Book.
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Jack Spellman’s early sketches for the JAX Airport Activity Book.

Can you talk a little bit about your creative process for the activity book?

I asked myself what things would stand out to kids and what would they have questions about as they walk through the airport.  Luckily, I had the opportunity to tour the Jacksonville International Airport with JAA staff and get a behind the scene look.  I took my notes and photos from the tour and started sketching and brainstorming ideas.  It didn’t take long for an overall picture to come together of the entire adventure a kid goes through from packing their bags to watching everything getting smaller out the plane window.

Where did you look for inspiration? 

Ideas and inspiration came from all over.  Peter Brown is one of my favorite illustrators of children’s books.  So I pulled some of his books off the bookshelf.  Old video games like SimCity gave me ideas about how to capture a large area, especially for the maze pages.

Is there a particular page or activity that’s your favorite? Why is that?

The spot the difference pages were a lot of fun to work on.  I just had to fill the page with lots of stuff.  Favorite movie references, local icons, and whatever goofy idea came into my head ended up on the page.

What do you hope parents/children will get out of this activity book?

Hopefully they’ll have fun looking at the cartoons, doing the activities and recognizing elements of the JAX airport on the page.  It would be great if it helped some travelers to take a second to actually look around a little bit on their way to the next place.

Where can people learn more about your work?

If you are flying through JAX Airport, feel free to stop by one of our information booths (located pre-security) to get a copy of the “Fun at JAX Airport” activity book for your child!


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