I didn’t start out planning on having a Route 66 love affair. I hadn’t even planned on taking a Route 66 trip! I am an early childhood expert, focusing on social-emotional growth and development through literature and enhancing family communication. In the summer of 2006, when I set off on my first cross-country trip, I had one children’s book published: Annie Mouse Meets her Guardian Angel, and was working on the second: Baby Brother goes to the Hospital. That trip was for the sole purpose of visiting my son and daughter-in-law, who had moved to Arizona in the Fall of 2005. If it inspired another “Annie Mouse Adventure” that would be a bonus, but I already had a list of books that were to become part of the series and had outlined the titles. I had enough writing “fodder” to last me the next decade- at least!
Quite frankly, interstate driving is boring and I like history. And a back problem and apparently, the tiniest bladder on the face of the earth, makes frequent stops a necessity. I had no itinerary other than the date I promised to be at my son’s house, allowing myself five days to get across the country. I was going to stop wherever the spirit moved me to stop. I just happened to stop at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, OK and The Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, TX. Aside from The Grapes of Wrath, I knew next to nothing about Route 66, but after visiting these two museums, I was hooked and began specifically searching out Route 66 attractions for the trip home. My agenda for the trip home was to visit the Grand Canyon, but after getting the “Route 66 bug” I stopped in Flagstaff and discovered that I could go to Williams and take the Grand Canyon Railway to the Grand Canyon.
Upon my return trip home, I began writing a chapter book, Annie Mouse’s Family Vacation. It wasn’t supposed to be a Route 66- themed book. A road trip would be just the thing to enhance family communication, and that was my motivation for writing the book. Half of the book was written when the new semester started and I had to put my writing on hold.
As spring semester came to an end, I began planning my 2007 cross-country trip. This time, I planned on purposefully seeking out Route 66 attractions and learning more about The Mother Road and all she had to offer. I came home from that trip with the knowledge that I hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface. I began to rewrite the first half of the book and changed its focus to Annie Mouse’s Route 66 Family Vacation, but felt if I took “just one more” trip, I would have enough information to be able to complete the book. With each trip, I took photographs- lots of photographs. I still wasn’t ready to complete the chapter book as there were so many more places I wanted to stop and people I wanted to meet. With each trip, I discovered that I had to rewrite the manuscript- places I had highlighted had closed, people were gone, it was no longer “current.” I started this project with the focus being, “Hop in the car and take a road trip with your family. Put the electronics down and experience a good old fashioned road trip!”
However, as I met the wonderful folks along the route, lamenting that people just don’t know they are there, I changed my focus to a Route 66 adventure because I wanted to do my part to get the word out- ROUTE 66 is ALIVE and has so much to offer! The folks along Route 66 had given me so much that I wanted to give back in the only way I know how- through education. What better way to get the word out than create a book for young children- put it in their hands and get them to beg their parents to go see some of the things highlighted in the trip? I wanted to get this book in the hands of teachers so that they could educate the children about this wonderful piece of American History- that can be experienced here and now! I decided that I would need to have a picture book so that the pictures could “hook” the children. I intended to complete the chapter book, which would tell the details of the trip, but children could refer to the photographs in the companion photo journal book. I originally intended that the books would be sold as a set.
By 2011 the photo journal was ready to go to press, the chapter book was not. I decided it was time to get that book out there already. I had been working on the chapter book for five years and it was not “good to go” yet as I continued to revise and update as I learned more and more.
My intent was never to focus on specific businesses or get involved in any “Route 66 politics” or become a Route 66 expert. I am an early childhood educator. I took a trip that changed my life; the books chronicle MY experiences. I want everyone to experience at least a part of Route 66 just once in their lives and, hopefully, have their own life-changing experiences.
Each trip has been a unique experience and I just can’t get enough of the people, the land, and the adventure. Each year I meet more people and am continually touched by the people who work so hard to keep a part of American history alive. I have completed the book, “Annie Mouse’s Route 66 Family Vacation” but I have not completed the journey. Hopefully, the journey will not be “complete” for a good long while! I now know that I can never truly see all there is to see and do, no matter how many “one more trips” I take. Route 66 is truly “in my blood” at this point and I admit it: I am an addict.
The e-book version of the new book has just been released. The print book will be available at a later date. Here is the link to the Amazon e-book for the US- although it is available in all countries: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IK9XH1M/ref=docs-os-doi_0
Here is the link to the original photo journal book- available in both print and e-book: http://www.amazon.com/Annie-Mouses-Route-66-Adventure/dp/0979337968/ref=la_B00515S5W4_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388774301&sr=1-2
And here is my author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Anne-Slanina/e/B00515S5W4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
I hope to see you on the road! Enjoy the journey!