TAMIU Faculty Member Writes Children’s Book with Campus as Backdrop
Posted: 2/10/11

TAMIU Faculty Member Writes Children’s
Book with Campus as Backdrop

A Texas A&M International University faculty member is hoping that a children’s book she’s penned that uses TAMIU as its backdrop will help increase appreciation and respect for nature.

“When I first set foot on campus, I was enchanted by the abundance of nature: white-tailed deer, javelina, birds of every type and native plants and vegetation, and thought that it would make a beautiful setting for my book,” said Dr. Sandra Garrett, assistant professor, TAMIU College of Education.

The result, “Little Armored One of the South Plains,” published by Treegryphon (AuthorHouse), is an illustrated children’s book that traces the adventures of a magical armadillo as he seeks friendship, safety and understanding in a landscape that can both challenge and sustain wildlife.

book cover


“I drew my inspiration from the TAMIU campus. Over many years, wildlife has been accustomed to visiting an area where a busy and expanding University campus is now located. Food sources and safety issues continue to entice animals to venture upon these grounds. Will humans always share spaces with animals or will the animals be pushed out?

“My protagonist, ‘The Little Armored One,’ enjoys the usual fanciful adventures, socializing, and hunting for food on campus, but one day brings something far from ordinary. As the reader learns, one day the armadillo and the other animals discover something of great importance about their future,” Dr. Garrett explained.

TAMIU president Dr. Ray Keck said the use of the campus as a backdrop for a children’s story is novel, and offers a valuable lesson for minds of all ages.

“To be of lasting and ultimate value, an education must lead us to understand that we, too, live bounded in the natural order. The wildlife on this campus daily reminds us of the mystifying breadth of life, varied and complex, filled with unique beauty of every stripe. We and they, together, share this earth and enjoy its bounty,” Dr. Keck explained.

The 40-page book, engagingly illustrated by Bobbie Dunlap in watercolor, includes familiar campus sights like the Lamar Bruni Vergara Science Center and Planetarium and the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library. It is available for sale at the University’s Book Store.

back cover

Garrett, who writes under the pen name Elaine Renfro, has been hosting special readings of the book for children and says she’s found the reaction touching and inspiring.

“These children are really engaged by the idea of keeping our environment intact and protecting all beings that draw life from nature:  humans and non-humans. At a recent reading, a little boy wrote a note to us that read:  ‘the story was awesome and descriptive and my favorite part was when the armadillo was imagining he could fly.’ Another wrote ‘you really inspired me to write a book when I grow up…it will be called The Attack of the Crazy Bunny.’ ”

An event featuring Garrett and “Little Armored One of the South Plains” is being scheduled to help celebrate Earth Day at the University in April. Parents will encouraged to bring their children and participate in the event.       

Garrett said she plans to write a continuing series featuring the “Little Armored One” and hopes to continue to inspire young children to appreciate nature.

For additional information, contact Garrett at 956.326.2678; visit offices in the Killam Library, room 419 or e-mail sandra.garrett@tamiu.edu  

Book information is also available at  www.littlearmoredone.com

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu