College mascots share life lessons in new book

ASU’s Sparky and Masyn Welker, 6, visit with author Karen Márquez Morales during the author’s release party for her book, “PAC-12 Tales,” at Goodyear’s Enroute Coffee and Tea House.

Former teacher Karen Márquez Morales is sharing the secrets of teamwork and fulfilling dreams with her new book, “PAC-12 Tales.”

“Readers can follow the PAC-12 mascots as they share their game plan of life’s most important lessons,” the Goodyear resident said.  

She uses the various mascots to tell her story. 

“We learned important lessons to help us live happy lives,” she said. “It’s as easy as A-B-C: A is for ‘active.’ B is for ‘brave.’ C is for ‘cooperative.’ It goes through the alphabet. 

“It’s not just about boys’ football. It’s about all sports. It does have the girl mascots in there, too.”

Illustrated by Jason Buhagiar, “PAC-12 Tales” was launched during a party at Goodyear’s Enroute Coffee and Tea House, where Sparky made a surprise appearance. 

Morales said the book took three and a half years to publish, due to legalities with the universities. 

“It is officially approved by all of the PAC-12 universities now,” she said. 

In late August, it will be available on and Barnes & Noble. It will also be sold before the games at PAC-12 university bookstores. Partial proceeds will be sent to, which encourages kids to stay active and build valuable life skills through play.

An ASU graduate, Morales began her collegiate career at Phoenix College, from which she earned an associate degree in journalism. After transferring to ASU, her adviser told her to change her major because the job market was slim in journalism. It worked out well. After all, she felt teaching was her calling.  

After retiring in 2014, she realized she had one more dream to fulfill: writing a book. She wrote the 38-page “The Krayon Kids,” which won the Story Monsters Purple Dragonfly Book Award in 2018.

Morales — who taught second grade for 30 years at Avondale Elementary and Michael Anderson schools — dedicated her book to her father, a former ASU baseball player, and her son, an ex-“brand ambassador” for the university. 

“I want to help continue Michael Anderson School’s model to ‘Dream big and work hard’ and never give up,” she said.

For more information, visit