A followup to Willy Wonka? Easthampton girl writes book about 'Sweetland'

  • Excerpt from an earlier draft of “How to Enjoy Sweetland.” STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Excerpt from an earlier draft of “How to Enjoy Sweetland” by Daisy Rolland. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daisy, of Easthampton, enjoys an ice cream cone at Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream, also in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Excerpt from an earlier draft of "How to Enjoy Sweetland" by Daisy Rolland, 10, of Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Earlier drafts of “How to Enjoy Sweetland” rest behind the self-published version. The book is illustrated by Venezuelan artist Gaby Alayón. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daisy shows off a finished copy of her book. The subject matter was inspired partly by her twin sister, Charlie. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daisy Rolland, 10, of Easthampton, talks about her self-published book, "How to Enjoy Sweetland,” at Mt. Tom's Homemade Ice Cream in Easthampton. That’s her father, Greg Rolland, behind her. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daisy Rolland, 10, talks about her self-published book, “How to Enjoy Sweetland,” with her parents, Kate and Greg Rolland. She first conceived of the book two years ago at age 8. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daisy Rolland, 10, second from right, with parents Kate and Greg Rolland; older sister Sally, 13; and twin sister, Charlie, at Mt. Tom's Homemade Ice Cream in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/16/2019 4:52:12 PM

During a single day over spring break two years ago, then-eight-year-old Daisy Rolland of Easthampton worked for hours to craft a book about sweets after being inspired by her third grade teacher’s suggestion to write a book during the student break. 

Now she’s done it. Rolland’s children's book, “How to Enjoy Sweetland: Your Essential Guide to Sweets,” is a self-published title complete with illustrations by Venezuelan artist Gaby Alayón that feature a young girl and a fox providing knowledgeable advice about something any kid would enjoy: making sugary treats and finding ways to sneak into the candy jar. 

At a recent interview at Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream in Easthampton, where she munched on a plain cone of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, Daisy, 10, said she didn’t expect the book to be published. When she showed the finished book to her friends this past fall, they were “shocked” and asked her, “When did you do this? Where can I get it?” 

She also presented her book to her fifth grade teacher at The Bement School in Deerfield, Rose Gage, who also happened to be her third grade teacher, the same one who had suggested Daisy write a story during her spring break from school that year. 

Rose Gage “liked it a lot,” Daisy explained. “She didn’t know she was the one who inspired me, and she was very proud.” 

“How to Enjoy Sweetland: Your Essential Guide to Sweets,” which is being sold at Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream, as well as at Richardson’s Candy Kitchen in Deerfield, also caught Daisy’s parents, Greg and Kate Rolland, by surprise.

“One day Daisy brings me her original book and says, ‘Ma, do you want to see my book?’ ” Kate Rolland recalled. “I started thumbing through it and said, ‘Wow! That’s a lot of chapters and illustrations.’ ”

And throughout the afternoon, Rolland added, her daughter was saying ‘Mom, I need a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and where’s your zucchini bread recipe?’ I was like, ‘When did you do this!?’ ” 

“Neither of us had any idea what she was doing,” said Greg Rolland. “And she did this in a single afternoon. She was very much into chapter books.” 

“How to Enjoy Sweetland” also features a chapter on “sharing sweets,” which shows a chocolate chip cookie broken up into three sections: “If you just got a treat and some of your friends want some of it, you should probably share with them.” In another chapter, there’s a list of ways to hide sweets, such as “under the bed,” “locked up in a safe,” or “in any hiding spot that you can remember.” 

In another chapter, Daisy writes of different ways to enjoy sweets such as “letting chocolate melt on your fingers” or “seeing if you can take all the chocolate chips out of a chocolate chip cookie.”

Inspiration from her twin 

While working on the initial version of the book, Daisy consulted her identical twin sister, Charlie, about what she might write about and what she should title her creative project, which was originally called “How to Explore Sweetland.”  

“I was like, ‘What should I write the book about?’ ” Daisy said. “And [Charlie] said, ‘Well, you could write a book about sweets.’ And I said, ‘Wow! That’s a great idea,’ ”  

Inspiration for the picture book also came from book series such as the children’s historical fantasy collection “Magic Tree House,” Daisy said. She’s an avid reader, especially of fantasy books, including the children’s adventure/fantasy series “The Land of Stories” by Chris Colfer. 

Daisy and her parents say her story underwent several design changes. Daisy completed the first draft, including a do-it-yourself approach to writing the book’s chapters and recipes, which were then removed due to copyright issues. Daisy and her parents then took the book to Paradise Copies in Northampton to create a more refined version of Daisy’s original work. 

Greg Rolland said Daisy asked her about publishing “Sweetland” and selling it at Barnes & Noble; the family ended up self-publishing the book via Amazon’s CreateSpace program, a guide the online retailer offers for do-it-yourself publishing. It took two years to publish the book and to coordinate with a professional illustrator. 

Greg Rolland said more than 10 different illustrators from across the world were vying for the book project. The family used Fiverr, a freelance online marketplace, to hire Alayón to design the book’s artwork, selecting her from among many other illustrators because of her colorful and vibrant style.

However, neither Daisy nor her parents have met Alayón face to face yet. Greg Rolland said the artist fled her home country this past Christmas Eve due to the economic crisis in Venezuela; the Rolland family is still waiting to hear back from her.

Rolland said his daughter is the first published author in their immediate family, adding “It’s exciting to be part of it.”

Daisy also recently read her book to young children at a daycare center in Easthampton. “They were quite cute, and it was fun,” she said.

This won’t be Daisy’s last story, either. “I want to be an author or a teacher — those are both good occupations,” she noted.

In fact, she’s already at work on her next story, a “much longer one” that’s “about a girl who has a special locket that’s magical. There’s this evil woman who wants to contain it and use its magic to give her an entryway to the passageway of secrets.”

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gazettenet.com.

“How to Enjoy Sweetland” is available to purchase locally at Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream in Easthampton as well as Richardson’s Candy Kitchen in Deerfield. To purchase the book online, visit www.amazon.com/dp/0578424428.

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