In writing 'The Hutto Hippo,' children's author pays it forward to HISD students

"Hutto has been a wonderful place for me and my family in many ways," author Wendy Larson said. "Turning this poem into a book and publishing it, all while supporting local education, is a small way for me to celebrate our growing community." (Courtesy Jillian Schuhl, Sweet Daisies Photography)
"Hutto has been a wonderful place for me and my family in many ways," author Wendy Larson said. "Turning this poem into a book and publishing it, all while supporting local education, is a small way for me to celebrate our growing community." (Courtesy Jillian Schuhl, Sweet Daisies Photography)

"Hutto has been a wonderful place for me and my family in many ways," author Wendy Larson said. "Turning this poem into a book and publishing it, all while supporting local education, is a small way for me to celebrate our growing community." (Courtesy Jillian Schuhl, Sweet Daisies Photography)

The folklore of how Hutto's hippo mascot came to be reached new audiences through children's author Wendy Larson's release of "The Hutto Hippo" in March 2019. As schools across Central Texas and throughout the country adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, the Hutto Education Foundation announced July 3 all profits from the book will now go toward the foundation for the 2020-21 school year.

"The camaraderie in Hutto surrounding the hippo—perhaps the most unique mascot in the country—is something special," Larson said in a July 3 release. "I look forward to seeing how our community comes out to support HEF with this project."

The HEF is a nonprofit organization that partners with Hutto ISD "to enrich, enhance, and maximize the quality of education for all students," per the release. The HEF provides grants and scholarships for teachers, staff and students as part of its mission and fundraises year-round through corporate partnerships, community donations, payroll match programs and HISD employee donations, per the release.

“Providing support for our Hutto ISD students and faculty members is our No. 1 priority,” HEF Director Lizzy Samples said in the release. “Just like the hippo in the story, our Hutto parents, students and staff are looking for a much-needed respite while adapting to the new normal. This book is simply charming and a must-read for all hippo lovers. HEF is grateful for Ms. Larson’s generous donation.”

The book, written in verses, explores the legend of the Hutto hippo and how a loose circus animal in 1915 paved way for the city's mascot. Legend has it that a circus train stopped in Hutto to gather supplies and care for the animals. According to folklore, a hippo escaped from is keeper and ran toward Cottonwood Creek. The rest, for believers, is history.


Larson, an area attorney and children's author, has lived in Hutto with her husband and family since 2007, per the release. Larson said in the release that she chose to donate all profits to HEF due to the "direct and indirect benefits" the organization provides district children, including her own.

“Hutto has been a wonderful place for me and my family in many ways," Larson said in the release. "Turning this poem into a book and publishing it, all while supporting local education, is a small way for me to celebrate our growing community.”
By Kelsey Thompson
Kelsey Thompson is the reporter for Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto, where her work focuses on education, city government and community development. Originally from Upstate New York, Kelsey relocated to Austin after graduating from Syracuse University in May 2019.


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