Three-Time Islander Alumnus, Now Doctoral Candidate, Pens Children’s Book

By Richard Guerrero | Published: October 22, 2019

Three-Time Islander Alumnus, Now Doctoral Candidate, Pens Children’s Book

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – As an Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher at Veterans Memorial High School in the Corpus Christi Independent School District, three-time Islander alumnus Fredrick Gonzales said technology is equal parts blessing and challenge when it comes to keeping his students focused on the details of each lecture.

“Smartphones have been a big part of the classroom, and there are pros and cons,” Gonzales said, noting that the introduction of wireless Bluetooth earpods have added to the difficulty of ensuring that students are fully present during instructional time.

The experience has inspired Gonzales, currently a doctoral candidate at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, to write, illustrate, and self-publish a children’s book called “Freddy from the Pond in: This is My Song Ya’ll.” Gonzales, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art from the Island University in 2012, produced a total of 14 illustrations for the project.  

A retired Army and National Guard veteran who served two tours in Iraq, Gonzales has had an equally long and fruitful career in higher education.

After attending Texas A&I University in Kingsville in the early 1980s where he studied art history, Gonzales enrolled at Del Mar College several decades later and graduated with three associate degrees in fall 2009. He arrived at the Island University the next semester and completed a bachelor’s degree in history in spring 2011 and his art degree in 2012. Gonzales completed a Master of Science in Secondary Education in 2013 and began work on a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction in fall 2016. He plans to graduate in 2021.   

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Fittingly, the project’s roots were planted in a classroom: Gonzales read Grimms’ Fairy Tales and Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are,” for the Advanced Studies in Literature for Children and Adolescents course taught this summer by Dr. Corinne Valadez, Associate Professor of Curriculum, Instruction, and Learning Sciences.

“I noticed that Sendak had drawn the illustrations in addition to writing the book,” Gonzales said. “Even though I hadn’t drawn in years, I thought that I could probably write and illustrate a children’s book, too.”

Gonzales said the entire process – from inspiration to completion – took about six weeks. The period was marked by a series of medical challenges within his family, including his wife, Linda, a fellow Islander who graduated in spring 2018.

“I feel like I poured all of that out in my book because honestly, I didn’t know what else to do,” he said.

In his book, Gonzales points out the perils of technology overuse via the adventures of a young frog named Freddy who learns valuable life lessons while growing up in a pond. The Social Studies department chair at Veterans Memorial said he’s already completed a manuscript for a second book that will feature 24 illustrations. He’s hoping to create a full series over time.

“I am deeply grateful to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s faculty and staff.  The Island University is a veteran-friendly and a Hispanic Serving Institution, which has given me the opportunity to excel,” Gonzales said. “We attain our higher education not only to make ourselves better but to help others become better also. This project has given me an opportunity to use my education and talent to reach a wider audience. And what better way to do that than to write a children’s picture book series that discusses issues in the classroom and education in general?”

Additional Information

Fredrick Gonzales is a featured author at the second annual Corpus Christi Word Fest set to take place Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Island University. Gonzales will both sign and sell his debut book at the event.