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Hip and Hop Don't Stop author Jef Czekaj

Thursday, December 15, 2016

CHS had the pleasure of hosting children’s book author and illustrator Jef Czekaj (pronounced ‘check-eye’) last week. Each class was able to check out the antics of characters BeeYounce, Snoop Froggy Frog, Jay Zebra and Notorious P.I.G. And, since Jef is also a DJ, students read from his work, Hip Hop Don’t Stop accompanied by rap beat soundtrack.

as been mixing music, comic illustrations, and stories for over 10 years. In addition to Hip and Hop Don’t Stop, his books Cat Secrets, The Circulatory Story, and Yes, Yes, Yaul! have all been chosen as Junior Library Guild selections.

Wearing his signature cat sweater, featuring items cats enjoy - like cat nip, birds and mice - Jef answered questions from CHS students about what it is like to be an author.

“The good news,” Jef replied, “is that I don’t have a boss. The bad news is that it’s a lot work.”

Jef begins writing his stories by drawing a character. He starts with a list of characteristics, activities and emotions. Grades 3 and 4     suggested a combination dog, alligator, and hamster, that eats pizza, plays tennis and dabs, smells and feels funky and furious. Mr. Czekaj spent the entire day at CHS answering questions from students in Beginners to 6th grade. All had an opportunity to get a glimpse of the writing process. For example, Jef produces 8 or 9 drafts for each printed page; not all ideas work. Most children’s books  are 32 pages in length. That means Jef writes and draws over 200 pages that aren’t even used! When Jef talked about his writing and  drawing process the students asked him, “What happens to those pages?  And, do you throw them away?”  Fortunately, enough of those  pages are used so that Jef has over a dozen books in print, most of which are in the CHS library, including the companion book to Cat Secrets entitled Dog Rules. The rest are saved in case he’ll need them for a future book.

For more information about the author, Jef Czekaj visit his website