Leigh Horton
Special to the Daily

Road trip yields more than ‘are we there yet?’

EDWARDS — Road trips are part of the American imagination. Images of “Sweet Baby James,” “I spy ...” games and unparalleled scenery seen from air conditioned and comfortable cars fill summer plans. Five minutes after the van is loaded, a chorus remarkably unlike mellow ’70s music beings: someone needs to use the “potty,” verses of “he started it!” are repeated — and repeated — and finally, the finale of “are we there yet?” shatters all hopes of a peaceful family vacation.

Why do we insist on hitting the road each year? Clark in “National Lampoon’s Vacation” explains that “getting there is half the fun. You know that.”

Authors Wendelin Van Draanen and Mark Huntley Parsons agree. While they will hopefully not have the same experiences as Clark and his entourage, they plan to have a fulfilling experience anyway. They have pulled out the coolers and maps to promote adolescent literacy and independent bookstores. The highlight of the trip will be at The Bookworm of Edwards (located near several well-placed gas stations).

Van Draanen is the author of dozens of children’s books, including “Sammy Keyes,” “Shredderman” and “Flipped,” the inspiration for the 2010 Warner Brothers feature film. “Sammy Keyes,” a young female detective is, according to the Boston Globe, “the hottest sleuth to appear in children’s books since Nancy Drew.”

Her tour collaborator and writing partner, Parsons, is an author whose novel “Road Rash” has been an instant classic among adventure and coming-of-age book readers. Kirkus wrote that “Road Rash” is “a road-trip adventure in romance and friendship that is ultimately all about the music.”

Road trip tour

Their tour focuses not only on promoting their books but also on supporting small businesses and, therefore, bolstering local economies. Their goals, other than not to suffer through a horrific road trip, are to discuss books, writing and how they survive sharing an office. They will also share how they juggled full-time jobs and raising children as they worked toward publication.

To overcome all those challenges, this duo has developed a unique skill in their trade: teamwork. And they have had plenty of time to practice since their partnership is more than just collaboration on one book. They share the same publisher, the same office and the same life — because Van Draanen and Parsons are married, and they have been for even longer than they’ve been writing.

But more than emphasizing teamwork and promoting their books, they want to encourage people to fulfill their dreams. They dream of encouraging young adults to become more proficient and prolific readers, and they fulfill this dream by being efficient and productive writers, creating works that will appeal to a wide age range.

“Wendelin has written books for all ages,” said Franny Gustafson, children’s department manager at The Bookworm. “She has a few series for ages 7-12 and also some books for teens. Mark writes for young adults. So, this event will appeal to kids of all ages.”

And entertainment aside, the books are flat out great, according to Gustafson.

“Wendelin’s books are hilarious, mysterious and exciting,” she said. “Mark’s new book, ‘Road Rash,’ is about a drummer in a rock band. How cool is that?”

Several local schools have already jumped on the reading bus by selecting “Sammy Keyes,” “Shredderman” and other titles for their required reads this summer. The authors will visit Eagle County Charter Academy for a private event Monday before their public event.

Leigh Horton is the journalism intern at The Bookworm of Edwards.

“Wendelin’s books are hilarious, mysterious and exciting. Mark’s new book, ‘Road Rash,’ is about a drummer in a rock band. How cool is that?”
Franny Gustafson
Children’s department manager,
The Bookworm of Edwards


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The VailDaily Updated May 17, 2014 05:57PM Published May 17, 2014 08:33AM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.