The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

September 24, 2013

Author with local ties sets tale in Albemarle

By Marina Shankle for the SNAP

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 — The story “Way to Go Kiddo,” written and illustrated by Alan Hines, tells the love story of characters Donald and Marina.    

Much of their story is set in Albemarle, a place where the author said he made many good memories.

Hines, who lives in Los Angeles, is connected to Stanly County through his mother, Frances Mann Hines, who was born and raised in Albemarle.

“Every time we visited, I felt more connected to it,” Hines said.

Hines wrote and illustrated the short book primarily for an audience of seniors. He got the idea for writing illustrated books for seniors while sharing a draft of his first children’s book, “Long Live Samson,” with his mother-in-law in a senior care facility in Ohio.

“While reading, some of the other patients gathered around her bed and made a fuss over the book,” Hines said.

“I had a revelation: seniors also enjoy picture books. I decided to create stories with subject matter which was pertinent and entertaining for them as well. And when the grandparents and grandchildren shared these stories, the experience would be magical.”

Hines believes that illustrated books can be enjoyed by all ages, he said.

“The drawings should communicate something to the reader that is not apparent in the text and vice versa,” he said.

“Children should have picture books they can be inspired by, laugh at, learn from, and seniors are no exception.”

The process of illustrating his own books, Hines said, is “exhilarating.”

“I love to work on my book illustrations in the wee hours of the morning,” he said.

“It is quiet, my mind is focused and I feel connected to my creator.”

Hines has been drawing and writing stories since childhood, he said.

“As an artist, I have painted hundreds of settings for theatre, film, TV, theme parks and museums for over 20 years,” Hines said.

“Eventually, I infused my entertainment industry skill set, along with experience, into creating picture books.”

Hines publishes his illustrated books for children and seniors through his publishing company, Toddlers to Dodderers.

Currently, Hines has published two books for children and one book for seniors, “Way to Go Kiddo.”

Hines didn’t have to look far for inspiration for his story.

“‘Way to Go Kiddo’ is loosely based on my mom and dad’s story,” he said.

“Inspiration for the book followed my father’s death in 2008. Going it alone, after 62 years of marriage, is tough on the surviving spouse. My desire for my mom to find love again, coupled with my dad’s military history, gave me the basis for the story.”

Hines’ decision to create a main character, Marina, who was from South America was inspired by a friend of his who was from Bogota, Colombia.

“He always shared interesting stories about his homeland,” Hines said.

The other protagonist, Donald, serves in the Navy, inspired by Hines’ father’s service.

“‘Way to Go Kiddo’ ends with a tribute to my late father, P.T. Hines Jr., a naval aviator and officer who helped commission the USS Midway following World War II,” Hines said.

“I have a great respect for the men and women who serve and protect our country.”

While one main character in the story is from South America and the other is in the military, they make their home in Albemarle, where a large portion of the story takes place. Those familiar with Albemarle will recognize the names of streets and businesses as they read.

“Our family traveled often from Atlanta to Albemarle to visit my grandmother, Mrs. W.L. Mann, and her late husband’s sister, Beula,” Hines said.

“They lived on beautiful South Third Street, next door to the Starnes’ house.”

According to Hines, he and his sister, Helen, and their friends, Bill and Mary Beth Morris, enjoyed walking uptown, visiting Albemarle businesses such as Phillips Drug Store, Lowder’s Hardware and Roses Five and Dime.

“It was always wonderful to see Nana’s friends, including Toby and Mary Lib Webb and their children Fossie and Tom. Nana had people at the house frequently, and it felt warm and cozy, like Albemarle.”

Right now, Hines is working on a children’s book that he says addresses issues faced by children today, presenting the material in a “somewhat humorous fashion,” he said.

“Meanwhile, another senior story is brewing in my head,” Hines said.

He also plans to make e-books and greeting cards and prints from his books available on his website in the near future.

For more about Hines and his books, visit Toddlers to Dodderers at

“Way to Go Kiddo” is also available online at and at Barnes & Noble.