Owney the dog is a loveable and inspirational figure in mail-service history and a friend to children and visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. This historic pooch is now featured in Owney: Tales from the Rails, a new free eBook narrated and performed by country singer Trace Adkins, and available two ways—online and as an Apple iPad app. The animated children’s story brings to life the amazing true adventures of Owney the dog and is now available on the museum’s website: Owney: Tales from the Rails.
The adventures of Owney, a scruffy mutt who became the unofficial Railway Post Office mascot in the 1890s, are narrated through contemporary eyes and based on primary sources with a dash of imagination. Never before has Owney’s story come to life in such an entertaining way, combining narration and a musical soundtrack featuring Adkins. Owney: Tales from the Rails was produced by Amusme, written and directed by accomplished Disney veteran Jerry Rees, complemented by world-class illustrations by Fred Cline and features music written and scored by award-winning children’s entertainment architect Stephen Michael Schwartz, with underscore composed and mixed by Chris Rhyne.
“As a father of five, history buff and animal lover, I am very proud to work with the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum to bring Owney’s fascinating story to life,” said Adkins. “The song and this story provide a fun way for families to learn together.”
The website and iPad versions of the eBook, developed in tandem with the Postal Museum’s new Owney curriculum guide, provide rich learning platforms
for elementary school students in geography, language arts and history. The illustrations and musical elements are particularly valuable to making the story accessible in multisensory ways for students who are challenged in reading.
“This eBook will allow families and classrooms all over the country to discover the story of Owney,” said K. Allison Wickens, director of education at the museum. “It is wonderful to see a book that combines such heart and artistry with historically accuracy. I love the animated illustrations and musical elements; they enrich the narration in ways a print book cannot.”
Owney, who is also the subject of a recently released official commemorative stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service, has been preserved and is on display at the museum. His encounters with his mail clerk friends provide an engaging and accessible window on history and the role dogs play in communities and as companions. This is the first of Owney’s published stories that is based on new discoveries in scholarship; recently uncovered articles and tags have shed new light on his relationship with postal clerks and his many destinations. From accounts of his origins to the detail on postal vehicles, uniforms and mailbags, the story conveys historical accuracy as well as emotion.
This project was made possible through the support of the Smithsonian Office of Education and Access.
About Trace Adkins
Adkins is one of country music’s most versatile and accomplished entertainers. His instantly recognizable baritone has earned him 15 Top Ten hits, and he has released gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums with total sales surpassing 10 million. He is an author and was a finalist on NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice. As an actor, he was most recently seen in The Lincoln Lawyer starring Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillipe. A member of the Grand Ole Opry, Adkins was raised on country and gospel and is known as a traditionalist who speaks his mind and honors the past. Beginning in March, he will perform intimate shows at theaters across the country on his “Songs & Stories Tour.”
About the National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., in the Old City Post Office Building across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information visit the museum’s Web site at postalmuseum.si.edu.
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