Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  John O. Cech  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult; Young Adult; Children; Children;

Born: 1944 in Chicago, Illinois

-- Website --
-- John O. Cech on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Cech was born in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

John Cech is an award-winning writer, teacher, scholar and critic. He is a Professor of English and Children's Literature at the University of Florida in Gainsville, where he currently serves as the Director of the University’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture. He is also the director of the Center for Children’s Literature and Culture.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

My Grandmother's Journey
ISBN: 0689818904

Aladdin. 1998

A grandmother tells the story of her eventful life in early twentieth-century Europe and her arrival in the United States after World War II

First Snow, Magic Snow
ISBN: 0027179710

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. 1992

A little girl made from the magical first snow lives with a lonely man and his wife through the winter, and when she disappears in the spring, the couple set out in search of her

ISBN: 0027657051

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. 1994

In this retelling of a Floridian legend, a boy learns to fiddle and later uses his music to save the forest animals from the floods caused by a hurricane

Jacques-Henri Lartigue: Boy with a camera
ISBN: 0663592747

Silver Burdett Ginn. 1996

Story of a boy's first camera in 1902. Great B&W photos.

Southernmost Cat, The
ISBN: 0689805101

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. 1996

Meeting his match at the height of his ninth life, Southernmost Cat begins a tug-of-war with a huge, hungry fish that is just as stubborn as he is, and the old cat begins a wondrous journey around the globe.

Aesop's Fables
ISBN: 1402752989

Sterling. 2009

One of the earliest volumes ever printed in English was Aesop’s Fables, and these delightful, instructive little parables have never gone out of style. Though originally meant for all ages, it is generally considered the first real book to have an audience of children. Noted author John Cech—whose Classic Fairy Tale Collection has received wide critical acclaim—retells some of these best-loved stories in his own inimitable way. Martin Jarrie (illustrator of the bestselling ABC USA) enhances the tales as never before with his unique folk-style art, making this anthology one of the most beautiful and necessary volumes for any child’s bookshelf.

The beloved fables here include:

- The Fox and the Grapes
- The Ant and the Grasshopper

- The Vain Crow

- The Rooster and the Pearl

- The City Mouse and the Country Mouse

- The Tortoise and the Hare

- The Lion and the Mouse

- The Boy Who Went Swimming

- The Sun and the Wind

- The Monkey and the Camel

Plus: a note on Aesop

The Nutcracker
ISBN: 1454921161

Sterling Children's Books. 2016

Every year around Christmas, thanks to the perennially popular ballet The Nutcracker, children all across America have visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in their heads—and on the stage. Many kids even perform in it with their local companies and ballet schools. So what better gift than this enchanting paperback version of John Cech’s retelling of E.T.A. Hoffman’s classic tale, featuring luminous, rich illustrations by artist Eric Puybaret (Puff, the Magic Dragon)? It’s perfect for preparing youngsters for a visit to the theater—or just as a goodnight story.

This lovely edition includes not only the story used for the ballet, but also other wondrous adventures—including the tale of Princess Pirlipat and an explanation of the origins of the Nutcracker himself. It belongs under every child’s tree.

The Princess and the Pea (Classic Fairy Tale Collection)
ISBN: 1454916788

Sterling Children's Books. 2015

A long time ago, there lived a prince who was looking for someone very special to marry. One of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories gets a breathtaking showcase, with lavish art and an elegant retelling by acclaimed writer, professor, and radio host John Cech. It’s the second exquisite entry in the Classic Fairy Tale Collection series.

Although the handsome prince meets ladies blessed with beauty, wealth, and brains, he knows in his heart that none is the true princess he longs for. Then, one stormy night, a wet, disheveled, and very weary young woman knocks at the castle door. Could she be his queen? One tiny pea buried underneath 20 soft mattresses might reveal the truth…

Bernhard Oberdieck’s stunning images, with their soft color and unusual perspectives, capture all the fantasy and romance of Andersen’s appealing tale.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses (Classic Fairy Tale Collection)
ISBN: 1454919094

Sterling Children's Books. 2016

Every day, twelve princesses mysteriously wear out twelve new pairs of shoes—and neither the king, nor a series of hopeful suitors, can figure out how. Then a simple soldier, with a little magic on his side, gives it a try. Will he succeed where others have failed? Lucy Corvino’s illustrations capture the princesses’ graceful dancing world in this beautiful version of the classic fairy tale, now in paperback.

The Elves and the Shoemaker (Classic Fairy Tale Collection)
ISBN: 1454916761

Sterling Children's Books. 2015

Adapted from the perennially popular folktale, first published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, this engaging version of The Elves and the Shoemaker features uniquely compelling and otherworldly illustrations by Kirill Chelushkin. What will the poor cobbler and his wife do? They have just enough leather to make one last pair of shoes. Then, good fortune suddenly smiles upon them. While the shoemaker sleeps, someone fashions the most perfect pair of shoes imaginable—and a delighted customer pays twice the asking price. Who could have done such marvelous work? And will the magic continue? A captivating story that children are sure to enjoy.

Jack and the Beanstalk (Classic Fairy Tale Collection)
ISBN: 1402730640

Sterling. 2008

Jack and his marvelous beanstalk made their first appearance in England in 1734—and for nearly three centuries the tale has continued to enchant children. After all, what could be more reassuring to a small child than the idea that even a little boy can outwit a scary giant?
John Cech retells this popular story with humor and warmth, adding plenty of entertaining detail and bringing in some less familiar elements, too. (For example, when Jack escapes for the last time, the giant’s wife comes along with him, and becomes his mother’s good friend.) And Robert Mackenzie’s art captures all the magic of the huge beanstalk and the giant’s oversized world up in the clouds.

Puss in Boots (Classic Fairy Tale Collection)
ISBN: 1402744366

Sterling. 2010

When a poor miller dies, he has nothing to leave his son but a cat—but, fortunately, it’s a very smart cat. With just a pair of boots, a feathered hat, and a cloth bag, the wily Puss changes his master’s luck, transforming him from a peasant into a prince.

John Cech and Bernhard Oberdieck, who created the critically acclaimed Classic Fairy Collection’s version of The Princess and the Pea, have teamed up once again to present a clever and enchanting retelling of one of the oldest fairy tales of all.

Rapunzel (Classic Fairy Tale Collection)
ISBN: 1454916796

Sterling Children's Books. 2015

We never really know where a story will begin or end. This one starts with a head of lettuce . . .

Thus begins John Cech's enchanting retelling of "Rapunzel," the tale of a poor couple forced to surrender their newborn daughter to a powerful witch, all for having stolen some lettuce to satisfy the wife's unbearable hunger. And so the witch takes Rapunzel to a secluded tower, where the girl spends her days singing and braiding her long hair. Then, one day, a prince hears her sweet voice and everything changes. . . .

Complete with fanciful illustrations by Fiona Sansom, this beautiful book belongs on every fairy tale lover's shelf.

Rumpelstiltskin (Classic Fairy Tale Collection)
ISBN: 1454919086

Sterling Children's Books. 2016

It was a boast that would have terrible consequences.
Once upon a time, a miller told the king that his beautiful daughter could spin straw into gold. Now the girl must complete this impossible task—and only a strange little man with a magical touch can help her. But he exacts a dreadful promise in return….

Imagination and Innovation: The Story of Weston Woods
ISBN: 0545089220

Scholastic Press. 2009

A stunning, informative pictorial tribute to the leading creative force in the production of films for children--Weston Woods Studios and its founder, Mort Schindel

Please see extended summary on next page.

An afternoon at Colonus: A recollection of Edward Dahlberg
ISBN: B0006X18BQ

Pequod Press. 1978

A Rush of Dreamers: Being the Remarkable Story of Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico
ISBN: 1569247757

Marlowe & Company. 1997

In San Francisco, a city famous for its eccentrics, the most celebrated of all was Joshua Norton who, in 1859, declared himself Emperor of the United States. One of the original '49ers, Norton made and lost a fortune (and a good portion of his reason) during those rough and ready first years of the "instant" city that grew out of the sand dunes of Yerba Buena.
John Cech's novel recreates those dizzying days of the Gold Rush and its aftermath, when dreams of sudden riches could quickly become nightmares, and survival depended on the kindness of strangers and the persistence of the imagination. It does, finally, what Mark Twain urged someone to do for his friend the Emperor over a century ago - "write him up." Along the way, Cech tells the story not only of Emperor Norton but also of that Whitman-like catalogue of dreamers - merchants and mechanics, bandits and blacksmiths, clerks and clairvoyants, artists and inventors - who found themselves rushing for the promise of California.

Angels and Wild Things: The Archetypal Poetics of Maurice Sendak
ISBN: 0271009497

Penn State University Press. 1996

Over the course of more than eighty books that he has written and illustrated in a career that has spanned four decades, Maurice Sendak has become the most influential and, at times, the most controversial creator of works for children. Each of the books in his trilogy—Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, and Outside Over There—has been precedent-setting, dramatically expanding the boundaries of subject matter and images that have been conventionally accepted in books for younger children. In this first comprehensive reading of Sendak's key works, John Cech considers the symbolic child who has appeared and developed in Sendak's books and remains at the center of his vision.

By fusing biographical, historical, cultural, and literary materials with the insights of depth psychology and archetypal theory, this study traces the evolution of Sendak's work—from its first, bold steps in the 1950s, to its liberating breakthroughs of the 1960s and early 1970s, to the rich complexity of his most recent books. Though touching on many of the works that Sendak has been involved with, Cech concentrates on those books that Sendak has both written and illustrated. It is in these books that we can see most clearly the poesis of Sendak's art, the alchemy of his creative process that has woven together the remembrances of his own things past, the spirit of his times, the history of children's literature, and Sendak's animating concern with the archetypal figure of the child—a symbol of creative potential, emotional vitality, and spiritual renewal.


My Grandmother's Journey

  • Outstanding Book in the Field of Social Studies, Children's Book Council and the National Council of Social Studies
  • First Snow, Magic Snow

  • Outstanding Book in the Field of Social Studies, Children's Book Council and the National Council of Social Studies
  • Jacques-Henri Lartigue

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)