Claudia Villarreal has learned to translate her life-long love of learning and fun into a creative and fulfilling outlet. Her self-published children’s book The Alphabet Thief Who Stole the Vowels has already made a splash in elementary schools and libraries across central and south Texas. With books piled into the trunk of her car and a single assistant by her side, Claudia has taken to tirelessly traversing the open roads of Texas in a one woman promotional roadshow.
Claudia’s time as an elementary school teacher and her own childhood memories of reading Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge subconsciously influenced what would eventually become her first foray into the world of children’s literature. Writing a book aimed at the children of family, friends, and those at work had its fruition as a fun side project, but it soon evolved beyond a curiosity into a challenge worth seeing to its completion. Claudia’s “I’ll do it myself!” attitude proved exactly the push the book needed. With the assistance of freelance illustrator Michael Koch and ummhumm | creative studio, the road to self-publishing was one of which resulted in a tale that’s full of whimsy, color and revels in the joys of learning.
As the oldest of two girls, Claudia was born in Laredo, Texas and raised in the small border community of Zapata, Texas. Her mother, Rosalva, a long time county employee, rose to the position of County Judge and her father Elio has long had an entrepreneurial spirit. After graduating from Zapata High School in 1993, she went on to study at Texas A&M International University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1999. Claudia has been employed as a social worker for the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority (MHMRA) of Harris County and then as a Special Education teacher in the Houston Independent School District, the United Independent School district in Laredo, and the El Monte City School District in southern California. Claudia has also spent a number of years doing featured background work (or "extra work") on various popular television shows, including CBS’s C.S.I. and The Shield on FX, as well as several movies and music videos. Small roles in independent features followed and in January 2008 Claudia hit a major acting milestone by acquiring her Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) card when she booked a role in a nationally televised commercial.
The Alphabet Thief Who Stole the Vowels has opened up a whole new world for Claudia. In almost two years time, her story has gone from scattered scribblings on notebook paper to a fully realized and published book. With 20,000 and counting copies sold since the Fall of 2009, it’s safe to say that no one has seen the last of the Alphabet Thief and of Claudia Villarreal.