Rhode Island’s Next “Alex & Ani”? I Can Dream…Can’t I?

Last year I wrote a blog post about them on my Biddy Bytes website—the little company that grew out of nothing to become a national phenom. Its adherents wear thin little bangles of recycled, non-precious metal ‘round their wrists signifying all sorts of things.

It’s believed each wristlet is imbued with some kind of spiritual essence, and the company’s brilliant marketing plan pushed these little body adornments into the stratosphere, for they’re everywhere—most notably on most of Rhode Island’s female population (whose wrists are almost exclusively encircled with dozens of the little dears.) But men wear them, too.

With all their success, Alex and Ani has never forgotten who they are—a Rhode Island company.

You see, that’s important to them, for the jewelry industry used to be BIG here, but in the decades since it’s heyday, that industry’s fizzled and tanked.  And recently, when other states’ unemployment rates spiked at 8% unemployment, we’d already ‘gone there,’ and topped out at 10%.

So when a little company harkening back to our “King of the Jewelry” era was born, we all embraced it. It was just good karma.

But Alex & Ani is the brainchild of one woman who followed her dream to follow her jeweler father’s lead, developing her product. Now people clamor for her and their company product. And her product is in all the supposed fashionable places like Newport… Naples…Hollywood.

Her mission is to doubtless encircle the wrists of all who wear jewelry.

We, at Grandpa and the Truck, have a similar mission. Curiously, we find ourselves alike our sister RI company, in other ways, too.  We’re both…

  •  Products of a small, grass-roots efforts.
  • “Made in the United States”…That’s important to us, as we do our little part to grow the US economy. Our books are printed in Charleston, SC—not China, like so many others.
  • Formed from ‘recycled materials’…Our books are made out of paper which is made out of trees.
  • The brainchild of Rhode Island women.
  •  Share a similar mission:  Alex & Ani hopes to be on everyone’s wrist, while we want a Grandpa and the Truck book in every child’s hands.
  • Committed to our products.
  • Known for charitable component: We go to hospitals to cheer up sick kids; they have a corporate charitable component.
  • Bringing joy to others with our products.
  • Named for one of us. Owner/designer, Carolyn Rafaelian, named her company after two of her children; we honor Grandpa (the trucker) in ours.
  • Inexpensive.  Alex & Ani cost about $25.00 per bangle, while Grandpa and the Truck books cost $9.99 for 2 beautifully-illustrated stories, plus Lesson as focus, Question pages, Trucker Terms, Maps…

 **Quite simply, in today’s market, we both offer a lot of bang (or bangle) for the buck.



Reviews Are Coming In–Along with Pictures

On the Amazon site, under our Grandpa and the Truck book, Barbara T. of Cranston says: “I bought two of these books to give away as gifts. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories will capture a child’s imagination. As a retired reading specialist I am impressed with the vocabulary used and the way each story is introduced with a lesson to be learned. It is a book that can be read a multiple of times and for different purposes. In addition to enjoying Grandpa’s tales, one is given the opportunity to learn about our states. This book can be used to teach a geography lesson. I highly recommend this book!

Know what I especially value in Barbara T’s review? She’s an exepert in her field, a reading specialist of many years’ experience who recognizes this book can be read a ‘multiple of times and for different purposes.’ She likes the vocabulary (I don’t water it down) and the lesson that’s introduced clearly at the beginning of each story. She points out its geographic value, as tool for little ones to learn about our states.

Thank you, Barbara. As a teacher, I tried to hit on all levels–not just put out a cute, fuzzy, feel-good book.

Though I characterize its best audience as the 4-8 crowd, some parents have already introduced their younger ones to it, at age 2 and up..Reading together can’t start too early.

Here’s little one, Tyler Harrington, son of Alicia Stickney Harrington (one of my former students) so happy with Grandpa and the Truck, he’s trying to eat it.

But in next pic, he gets down to serious business pointing out “Twuck…twuck…and big rig (some of the vocabulary little ones will learn in the glossary of terms called “Trucker Talk.”)

Join us on this exciting journey.

We go to Hasbro’s Children’s Hospital soon, to do a reading, complete with truck models and sound effects of jake brakes clicking and air horns blasting..We hope to give little ones facing difficult health problems, a reprieve, if even for a short time.



Tyler Triplets Love Grandpa and the Truck

“Who are those adorable kids?” you ask….

They say “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” or “The proof is in the pudding,” and I say:  “Folks, we couldn’t stage this—believe me.”  See the little ones in the big banner picture atop the site?  They’re the sons of a daughter’s co-worker enjoying Book 1 of the Grandpa and the Truck stories.  It just helps a lot that these Tyler triplets are adorable!

Look at the expression…pure enjoyment as they follow the adventures of Grandpa as a young trucker, when he trekked all across the United States in his truck “Proud Mary.” What happens in Story 1?  Well, little ones learn the wisdom of independent thinking (no, I don’t put it that way in the story) as they follow a chain of cars following a “smokie” (“policeman” in trucker lingo) on a fog-enshrouded highway. This story will teach them to think before they blindly follow.

In Book 1, Story 2 (each book contains two stories), excitement is ramped up even more when Grandpa’s trucking partner goes off into the Virginia woods after dark and falls into a pack of bloodhounds.  The merry chase is on, as Ralph races down a moonlit path yelling “Paul, open the truck door…they’re after me!”

When I’m reading the story and get to the part where the dogs are at Ralph’s butt, the little ones convulse in laughter.

All good, wholesome fun…teaching good things…with remarkable illustrations sure to get little ones’ imaginations running (But, I swear:  It looks like the Tyler tykes are actually reading–at least the middle one! Considering they’re only 4, that’s pretty amazing!)

In approximately three weeks, Book 2 will be released containing “Girl Truckers” about two Rhode Island women who became a long-haul trucking sensation and “Grandpa Meets the Hurricane” where little ones will learn about one of Nature’s most powerful forces.

“Stay tuned…good buddies.”

PS…Some have said, “But I don’t have little ones 4-8 years of age.”  The answer to this?  Grandpa and the Truck stories make great gifts for little ones in the 4-8 age group, so if you have event coming down the pike where you’ll need, they make unique, personalized gifts. Or you could stockpile in case you will need and avoid rushing out for that last-minute gift.

Not sure your little ones will like? Just look at the faces of the little boys in the banner picture…There is no better testimony.

See you soon when I tell you more about the trucker…the model behind this series…things you probably don’t know, even if you think you know him.


“Grandpa and the Truck” Stories for Kids: A Tribute to the American Trucker


For latest updates to how we’re doing as we get the word out about Grandpa and the Truck Stories, scroll down.  It’s there, I give running updates…



Truckers are key to the American Success Story. How?  They transport every product we use in our daily lives.

The “Grandpa and the Truck” stories focus on the career experiences of one of them.  Written for kids ages 4-8, they show what truckers deal with via Mother Nature, crazy drivers, and tough road conditions.

They teach important life lessons as well.

The stories are based on the career of veteran, long-haul trucker Paul Wesley Gates, one of Atlas Van Lines’s “Elite Fleet” of drivers who logged millions of miles without accident.

He drove the big rigs for 30 years, clear across America, from Canada in the north, to the Gulf region in the south, and from his home port of Rhode Island on the east coast, to Washington State, in the west.

And in that job, he became expert at many things: how to run a business…how to interact with people..how to deal with emergencies. He met extraordinary folks and faced almost-insurmountable tasks.

But he is forever grateful for a job that taught him much about life and exposed him to the wonder of America with its diversity, amazing geography, and the goodness of its people.

His stories are from the perspective of “Grandpa,” and they’re the tales he told me.  Then, I told them to our 3 grandchildren.

But make no mistake:  Grandpa’s tales are the stories of all truckers as they go about their business every day—moving America.

For that reason, Grandpa’s stories are a tribute to them all.

Colleen Kelly Mellor (author of “Grandpa and the Truck” Stories and wife to this trucker)