Ten Days in Texas


I spent the last week and a half in Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin, visiting schools. Click below to read the highlights.

Day 1.

Visited Pond Springs Elementary and got to see the librarian, Ruth Cook, again. I first met Ruth last year at the Texas Library Association, and she’s the one most responsible for arranging my visits here. (Thanks, Ruth!) After a fun day at her school, she suggested I check out downtown Round Rock.

01-unlicensed-weapons-sign.JPGNow Round Rock is a very nice place, but I couldn’t shake the feeling there was something missing. I saw a Wal-Mart, a Chili’s, an Office Max. Save for the weather, it was tough to tell I’d gone anywhere at all.

And then I spotted this sign in a restaurant window. Hot dog, I’m in Texas after all!

Day 2.

02-pirate.jpgA fun day at Blackland Prairie Elementary. Afterwards, at the suggestion of the librarian, Meg Beasley, I went in search of the famous round rock for which the town is named. I found it in a stream. It wasn’t as big, or as round, as I had expected.


It’s evidently been there for a long time, and used to be a guidepost for settlers and Native Americans who needed to cross the stream at a shallow point. Wagon wheel ruts can still be found in the creek bottom beneath.

Day 3.


I took a wrong turn coming home from Wells Branch Elementary and found myself in the Dell Computer campus. It’s enormous. As I meandered about, lost, I had this fear that I would run out of gas, they would discover my Mac laptop, and I would never be seen again.

Day 4.

great-oaks-pirate.jpgTwo schools today, Great Oaks and Teravista. At Great Oaks, the hall was filled with nearly life-sized Backbeards, each one better than the last.

The second school, Teravista, is so new that neither Google Maps nor my GPS seemed to know exactly where it was. I was lost in the Teravista community for some time until I came across a parade of kindergarteners in red shirts walking down the sidewalk on a field trip. In desperation, I began to follow them, like the Pied Piper in reverse. Sure enough, they led me directly to the school.

Day 5.

Starting to run out of energy today. Good thing Jollyville Elementary was such a nice visit. I was speaking to the librarian, Sammie Slone, and she explained just how big this district is. The Round Rock Independent School District has 6 high schools, 9 middle schools, and 30 elementary schools!

Days 6 and 7.

The less said about the weekend the better. I ate something bad Friday night and didn’t leave the hotel until Monday.

Day 8.

Feeling much better. Had a very nice day at Cactus Ranch Elementary. I was talking to the librarian, Lindsay Jones, about the famous bat bridge in Austin and how sorry I was to have missed it over the weekend. She explained that Red Rock has it’s own version, a little smaller than the one in the city, and it was less than a mile from my hotel. At dusk I drove down to check it out, and I’m so glad I did. Click the pictures below to see the show. (By the way, that’s not smoke in the sky – it’s bats.)


Day 10.

Another great visit, this time at Brushy Creek Elementary. The librarian, Emily Chapman did a great job of setting everything up, and the day was a pleasure from beginning to end.

Day 11.

My last two visits were a blast. At Purple Sage Elementary I met a librarian, Natalie Wilgoren, who had the same exact Boston accent as my mom. At Live Oak Elementary I spoke to two groups of hearing-impaired students with a sign language interpreter translating my presentation. It was a strange experience, and I found myself second-guessing everything I said. The translators even interpreted my mannerisms as I read the story, all in real time. (I was afraid to scratch my nose.) I can’t imagine how they do it.

Anyway, time to go home. Thanks, Round Rock!