Camillus youth, uncle collaborate on chapter book

Christopher Costello knows what it's like to overcome hurdles. He and his twin brother, Brian, were born prematurely in 1999. At one pound 11 ounces, Chris was tiny, but both he and his brother rose to the challenge and haven't looked back since.

"He and his brother were miracle babies," his uncle, Jeff Costello said. "He's a fighter."

Chris, now 10, enjoys many things, including athletics, having won a total of seven gold and one silver medal in the Special Olympics, but there is one activity that he loves above all else -- reading.

So when Chris's uncle, Jeff Costello, approached him with the idea of helping him write a children's book, he didn't hesitate.

"I said yes -- all I've ever wanted to do is write books."

Actually, Jeff said, "He laughed and asked me, 'Why, do you have writer's block?'"

And so began a journey that the two would take together, meeting once a week at the Hazard Branch Library to discuss the turns and twists of the plot.

Chris, a fourth grader at Cherry Road Elementary School in the Westhill School District, also enjoys the outdoors and nature, so it was a natural to have the book's main character be a prairie dog named Andy Anderson. In the story, Andy gets into a guitar that was played by one of a group of teens around a campfire. The book then tells the fish-out-of-water story of Andy in Prairie Town.

"We actually did a lot of research on the animals in the book," Jeff said.

He himself is no stranger to writing, as he has written for Table Hopping and wrote for the bi-monthly publication, Everything Irish CNY for 14 years.

"For instance, we found out that gorillas can't swim, and we have a gorilla in the book, so we added that to the story," Chris said.

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