Everybody’s favorite bird takes kids on a great ISU adventure in this exclusive new LegaCY Club book for young children
In a cozy straw nest
In a tree way up high
Lived a red baby bird
His friends called him Cy
He was loyal and true
And his spirit was great
His home and his heart
Were at Iowa State
Thus begins the long-awaited book, Cy’s Surprise, published by the ISU Alumni Association for children and grandchildren of Iowa State alumni and friends.
Written by Kate Bruns (A)(’99 journ & mass comm) and illustrated by Tara Gartin (’87 graphic design), Cy’s Surprise is the premier LegaCY Club gift, aimed at toddler and preschool-age children. The 24-page book is available exclusively to families who enroll their children and grandchildren in the ISU Alumni Association’s newly expanded LegaCY Club.
Bruns, the associate director of communications for the ISU Alumni Association, began working on the book several years ago, and she had a vision to make Cy, the ISU mascot, relatable to children.
“I really felt like I wanted kids to be able to relate to Cy as more than just this rock-star figure in their lives, and instead to have Cy be more like them,” Bruns said. “So I really liked the idea of having him start as a baby and grow up and learn some of the lessons that I think most parents hope their kids will learn as they explore the world.”
Bruns’ “Dr. Seuss gene” came in handy in telling the lighthearted tale of Cy’s adventure on the Iowa State campus, and Gartin’s own love of the Dr. Seuss style played into the colorful illustrations that give Cy a childlike personality as he evolves from a baby bird to spreading his wings and becoming an active participant on campus.
“I really wanted Cy to be curious, because he’s discovering all the things that he can do at Iowa State,” Gartin said. “He’s kind of naïve at first. He’s exploring Iowa State, and he doesn’t know exactly what he’s getting into, and so it’s like an adventure for him. At one point in the story he suddenly realizes, ‘Oh, at Iowa State you can do all these different things!’ And it’s like an explosion of all the things he’s doing. It’s pretty funny.”
“I’m so excited about how Tara took the text and just ran with it and made these beautiful, adorable, funny images that I just think are going to be really appealing,” Bruns said. “I read my 5-year-old son the story and he loved it, but after I showed him the pictures he got extra excited about it.”
Author Kate Bruns:
Cy and the family clone
As far back as she can remember, Kate Adams Bruns (A)(’99 journ & mass comm) knew two things: She loved to write, and she loved Iowa State.
The writing began first.
“I’ve been writing rhyming poems since I was very, very young,” Bruns said. “Ever since I was probably 2 or 3 years old, my favorite form of play was to create books or, as I got a little bit older, to write things about Iowa State.”
Iowa State played a huge role in her childhood. Some of her most magical memories are of the times she accompanied her father, David Adams (L)(’73 metallurgical engineering), to Iowa State basketball games.
“That was kind of a special treat because we just had two tickets, and so the two of us would go,” she said. “We’d always stop at the gas station, and he’d let me get candy to eat in the car, and that was always cool. We would come up here for basketball games; when I got older we came to all the football games, too.”
Her family came to VEISHEA every spring – the colder the parade, the more vivid the memories, she said – and her dad often took her inside the big, imposing buildings.
Bruns’ father was “far and away the biggest influence” on her Iowa State connection, but a great-grandmother and an uncle also graduated from ISU, and her mother, Deborah Adams (L), and brother David, both University of Northern Iowa grads, have enthusiastically embraced the cardinal and gold.
So it was no surprise when Bruns enrolled in the journalism and mass communication program in the fall of 1996. And it was a happy coincidence that at age 17 she met Ben Bruns (A)(’01 construction engineering) and helped convince him to accept the offer to play Cyclone football.
“I was already in my Iowa State recruitment mode before I was even in the future-
husband recruitment mode,” she said. “I jumped on the fact that he was being recruited by Iowa State for football before I really thought about him in any other way.”
Ben and Kate, married since 2000, have a 5-year-old son, C.J., who has not surprisingly visited campus regularly, attending basketball and a few football games and spending time at Reiman Gardens. As business development director for the Weitz Company, Ben has had a hand in many of the new campus constructions and renovations, so C.J.’s parents often point out “the buildings that Daddy helped make.”
Kate says she and Ben won’t pressure C.J. into enrolling at Iowa State when the time comes but says he may end up at ISU.
“He may end up in a similar situation to mine, where it’s just been such a big part of his life for so long,” she said.
Illustrator Tara Gartin:
Surrounded by Cyclones
Tara Gartin’s Iowa State family tree is strong and growing larger every year.
Her father, Larry Lockwood (’61 architecture), graduated from Iowa State, and HIS father attended. Her mom, Dallas Lockwood, attended, and her husband, Timothy Gartin (MA ’92 English), is an ISU grad.
Her oldest son, Nathan, took classes at Iowa State. Son Peter is an ISU senior in physics and math, daughter Elizabeth is an ISU sophomore in public relations and anthropology, and youngest son, Joshua, is a high school sophomore who’s eyeing Iowa State’s theatre program.
That’s a lot of connections for someone who grew up in Overland Park, Kan., and knew the state of Iowa mostly from walking beans at her uncle’s farm.
But her father’s connection to the College of Design drew her to Iowa State.
“The one thing we’ve shared in common was art,” Gartin said. “He’s always encouraged me in my artwork, and since he studied here it was easy for him to say, ‘This is a great place to go for design.’ When we came to visit, it was obvious that it was an excellent graphic design program, so it was a perfect fit for me.”
Gartin’s experiences at Iowa State included living in Helser and Friley Halls all four-and-a-half years she attended school, plus she played oboe in the University Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra.
Gartin (’87 graphic design) worked as a graphic designer after graduating from Iowa State, including a number of years on campus. She took time off to raise and home-school her four children before launching into a new career as a children’s-book illustrator. She also volunteers as president of Story Theatre Company, a side job that involves promotional work, painting, and animation for the stage.
Today, with two kids enrolled at Iowa State, she stays connected through their activities. She also encouraged her sister’s daughter, Courtney Cooley, who lives in Kansas, to attend ISU. Courtney is a freshman in the College of Design.
BONUS: Read an expanded Q&A with the author and illustrator online.
This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.