Teacher pens young adult novel
By Joanna Blair
So many eyes in the dark. Eyes that change from moment to moment. Closed eyes that can't see anymore. Frightened eyes that don't scream anymore. Half-closed eyes that don't care anymore. Angry eyes that can't fight anymore. ... They know where they are. They know what happens here.
Set in Italy's Apennine Mountains, "Mink" is a stirring tale of adventure, courage and the quest for survival.
It follows a mink on his journey through harrowing trials posed by adversaries and predators. It is about pathways and bridges that must be crossed against incredible odds.
For local author Robyn Rolison-Hanna of Rostraver, "Mink" was born out of her research on mink farms as well as the trappings and harvesting of animals for their fur.
"As an animal lover and supporter of several animal organizations, I was incensed when I learned that someone snuck into a mink farm and bludgeoned something like 2,000 minks with what was believed to be baseball bats," Rolison-Hanna said. "My research taught me about liberators that go to these places and open cages and release the animals inside, but I couldn't believe that there were actually subhumans that would do this to innocent animals."
Eventually, her research led to European minks, which are now in the endangered species status, Rolison-Hanna explained.
"'Mink' was written in one month," she said. "It focuses on Count Zeto Pantaleone Ulderico, a pampered and coddled European mink noble whose spoiled and privileged life comes to a screeching halt when he and his cousin, Muccino, are trapped and taken by Guiseppe Tucci to his mink farm."
Rolison-Hanna is the daughter of Norma Rolison and the late G. Howard Rolison of Charleroi.
"Most of the names of the characters are names of relatives from my mother's side of the family," she explained.
Rolison-Hanna is currently on sabbatical from the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit in Greensburg, where she has been teaching special-needs students in the Belle Vernon Area School District.
"My first teaching position was at Greensburg Central Catholic High School where I was hired as the reading specialist, but actually designed the program and curriculum," she said.
Former supervisor Todd Moses said, "When she taught at Central Catholic, I was probably the best disrupter she had. I had a way of entering her classroom, which was a trailer outside the building, unannounced and disrupt whatever she was doing. After I finished with my stories, she was always able to bring the kids back to focus."
Moses said Rolison-Hanna was very dedicated to teaching.
"She has always been very driven, focused, communicative and a fabulous teacher," he said. "As far as the written language, she is an expert in the field. She taught her students how to do the things they need to do to be successful, especially with the written language. The right comma, explanation mark can make a big difference."
Moses wasn't surprised to hear his former colleague was now a published author.
"What I've read about her book doesn't surprise me," he said. "Her book focuses a bit on her Italian heritage. I know the passion she had in the classroom is in her book."
Doug Paul of Arctic Wolf Publishing has high hopes for his newest author.
"I was looking for a good young adult novel that kids would enjoy with a bit of a purpose and meaning," said Paul. "Most authors just send a black-and-white manuscript. Robyn (Rolison-Hanna) sent an invitation, something I'm not interested in. However, it was very tastefully done."
Paul described his initial reaction after reading the manuscript.
"I found it something kids would enjoy, what I was looking for. It had animals that talk," he said. "I thought it was a good, well-meaning book saying the mink trade is a bad thing and the message is given to kids in a form that they would enjoy reading."
Paul continued, "One of the most important things for a new author is how they sell themselves. They have to scream from the rooftops. Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble. com have hundreds of new authors, and I see Robyn (Rolison-Hanna) doing the things that are necessary to make her book stand out. She has the personality to go that extra mile and let the world know. I have high hopes for her."
Although Mink is for all ages, Rolison-Hanna wrote it for children ages 10 through 14.
Rostraver resident and Greensburg Central Catholic student Caroline Tucker, 14, recently read the book. It took less than three days for her to finish it.
"It's nothing like I've ever read before," she said, "an adventure story with animals as the main characters. I usually read the Nicholas Sparks-type love story so this is definitely a change of pace. I found the vocabulary challenging and I love being challenged academically. It opens up my mind. It has been very difficult to put down once I started reading. Once the story reached the climax, it put me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen. I just wanted to read more and more.
Tucker, the daughter of Dr. Charles and Allison Tucker, said she encourages others to read "Mink."
"The lingo, so to speak, is geared to the young teenage group, but I think adults would enjoy it as well," Caroline said.
Rolison-Hanna credits her husband of 12 years, Albert Hanna, for encouraging her to write and publish "Mink."
"He told me it was time to toughen my skin and just do it," she said. "'Mink' has many messages. It is anti-fur/anti- cruelty to animals themed, but it is also much more. It is about change, about taking freedom for granted. 'Mink' has everything in it and is family-oriented. "
In his relationship with Rolison-Hanna, Albert Hanna has known of her desire to write and be published.
"I knew she had the ability, and she's good with words, which is her gift from God," he said.
What's next for the new author?
"There will definitely be a sequel to 'Mink,'" she said. "This one will take place in North America when Zeto's son, Rizzsario, decides to visit the continent. At present I am working to get my Red Collar Series, a series of children's picture books, published. These books will be stories that teach lessons through various dogs with themes such as trusting again after being abused and tolerance for those who are different from us."
"Mink" is currently available online through BarnesandNoble. com and Amazon.com. Dates for book signings are being scheduled for the near future.
MINK, is due out late summer electronically of 2008. In September is will be in bookstores and can be ordered from any bookstore in your area if it is not physically in that bookstore. The author will be speaking in schools and doing book signings.
Mink is a young adult book due out this fall of 2008. Mink is a heartwarming story about two minks that go out for an adventure and are subsequently trapped and end up on a mink farm.
The story is set in Italy because European minks are now approaching the endangered species status. The book is anti-fur/anti-cruelty to animal themed.
This book was written to make children and young adults aware of the atrocities that occur on mink farms. The book, told in story form, describes what happens when an animal is hunted for its pelt.
Mink, set in the Apennines, is a stirring tale of adventure, courage and the quest for survival following a special mink; a journey through harrowing trials posed by adversaries and predators. It is about pathways and bridges that must be crossed against incredible odds.
The story is about, Count Zeto Pantaleone Ulderico, a pampered and coddled noble, whose spoiled and privilege life comes to a screeching halt when he and his cousin, Muccino, are trapped and taken by Guiseppe Tucci to his mink farm. Plagued with night blindness and no ability to track or scent, Zeto can no longer depend on his name or position, but with the aid of the beautiful Ardrianna and a cast of fellow cellmates, can they enlist hope to escape before they become articles of fashion in Milan's haute couture.