New Rocky Top e-book captures local spirit in modern form

Photo Courtesy of Nancy Rutherford

A DVD version of the e-book is available in local Walgreen's stores and the UT Bookstore.

Photo Courtesy of Nancy Rutherford
A DVD version of the e-book is available in local Walgreen’s stores and the UT Bookstore. Photo courtesy by Nancy Rutherford.

Younger audiences now have the ability to enjoy the adventures on Rocky Top thanks to a new e-book published by the Rocky Top Institute.

The book titled, “Tales from Rocky Top,” is a collection of three stories written by local writers. Local writer and UT alumni Charlie Haun provided one of the stories while the other two came from Bearden High School students Rachel Jones and Samantha Arnold, who participated in a contest.

“One of the things we wanted to do was make it more a part of the community and let people be involved in the brand and we decided to hold a competition for stories on Rocky Top because it really has a sort of mythology about it,” said Nancy Rutherford, head of the Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management.

Rutherford added that the competition will be expanded for the next book so that more local schools can participate.

The e-book includes the three stories that were accepted as well as narration for each story by Dane Bryant, who’s family owns the royalties to the song; Dr. Joe Johnson, UT president emeritus; and Bob Kesling, the “Voice of the Vols.”

“With the oral tradition that you have in the southeast of storytelling, to really do short stories that would be meant to read aloud, so we really geared towards children,” Rutherford said. “Mainly to be wholesome stories to be read by children but also read aloud.”

The book includes pop-up facts where children can click on the note and learn more about the university or some agricultural facts. It also includes original drawings by local artist, Tiffani Mari Mensch, who does drawing on the side of her usual work.

“I wanted to develop the character first before I went in and really put them into the stories,” Mensch said of the process she went through in making the drawings. “Just to give it life was very important, so I did a bunch of sketches of what I thought might work and brought them to the Rocky Top Institute students and to (Rutherford) and from there all the illustrations were done by watercolor with some pen and ink.”

Mensch said that while the process took a lot longer than any of them could of hoped for, the end product turned out to be something special. “This is definitely a new experience, especially as an e-book, but it is great because the end product,” Mensch said. “A painting, you paint it and that’s it, but when you can do something like this and scan it in, it is really fun and exciting.”

Rutherford said that gaining the narrators was a relatively simple process and she found that the final product turned out well. “It is like having your grandpa read to you,” Rutherford said about Johnson’s story. “Joe Johnson was great, I approached him first, and he was happy to do it.”

The book is available now in local Walgreen’s stores and the UT bookstore but an electronic version should be coming soon via iTunes. Rutherford said that there are already plans for a second volume with the contest open now and running through February 28th. She added that the goal for the release of the next book is next football season.

For more information or a link to enter a story, visit


Edited by Gabrielle O’Neal

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