Rick King

Rick King

There isn’t much a determined Longhorn can’t become if he works hard enough.

Perhaps he can even become … Bevo?

That’s the premise behind UT alum Rick King’s new children’s book, “Bodie & The Burnt Orange Sunset.” The rhyming book tells the story of Bodie, a runt calf with big dreams of representing The University of Texas as its mighty mascot, Bevo. Readers follow Bodie’s journey through the Lone Star State as he battles rivals and skeptics. It’s a message of perseverance that comes along with a healthy dose of facts about the real Bevo.

“Now I can indoctrinate burnt orange into toddlers from the Red to the Rio,” joked King, a 1994 advertising graduate and Emmy award-winning creative director for a Houston advertising agency.

But “Bodie & The Burnt Orange Sunset” does more than teach kids how to hook ’em. A portion of the book’s proceeds will benefit the Silvers Spurs’ BEVO endowment, which helps care for the real Bevo and supports the Neighborhood Longhorns Program. The Neighborhood Longhorns Program works to improve grade performance and reading, increase student retention rates, and provide college scholarships to economically disadvantaged youth in Texas.

“If I can do something that supports UT and helps a few children share in higher education, then the book has been a great success for me,” King said. “It's rewarding to know Bodie is contributing in some very small way.”

“Bodie & the Burnt Orange Sunset” is King’s first published book. King won his first writing award in the sixth grade for an anti-littering poem. He has gone on to win more than 100 creative awards, including an Emmy in 2008 for a public service TV campaign in support of military families.

He shares credit for his successes with his alma mater.

“Being a graduate of the prestigious UT advertising program gave me both knowledge and confidence to succeed in the ad world,” he said. “Many of my UT professors — such as Jef Richards, Don Winget, Robin Doughty, and William Doolittle — illustrated how high the bar should be for excellence. Each of them, and many others, taught with a passion and excellence that simply inspires.”

In the book, little Bodie is born under a burnt orange sunset — much like his creator.

“My parents met at UT and I've been in burnt orange since birth,” said King, a native of Baytown. He graduated from Baytown’s Robert E. Lee High School, home of the fighting Ganders.

“Yes, I said Ganders,” King said.

Wisely choosing a steer over geese, King wrote “Bodie & the Burnt Orange Sunset” in one week, and fellow UT grad Charlie Moore helped edit it the next.

Then King had the task of finding the right illustrator. He placed an ad and auditioned several artists before choosing Mario Rivera, also of Houston.

“I had to teach him all about UT, the Big 12, and Bevo,” King recalled of the Rhode Island School of Design grad. “I chose Mario because he has the ability to convey a wide range of emotions with his characters’ faces.”

The book has won praise from Sally Brown, wife of head football coach Mack Brown.

“‘Bodie & the Burnt Orange Sunset’ is a charming and delightful book that Longhorn parents and grandparents will love,” she said. “It’s sure to be an instant classic.”

Next on the horizon for King? He’s got screenplays in the works and is developing a concept for a TV series. Meanwhile, he has his young readers to keep him down to earth.

“At my first Bodie reading at a Barnes & Noble, I had a 5-year-old heckler, which taught me kids can be a tough and savvy audience,” King said. “Now I use an antique cowbell from Provence to get their attention.”