A new kind of Easter tradition
Michelle Doxsee, a mother of three, physical therapist and recently self-published author, has been making waves in her hometown of Sayville and neighboring communities with her new Easter tradition, a candy tree.
Doxsee was inspired by her daughter, Olivia Verdone, 8, who was 4 when she came to her with the idea of a lifetime. Olivia believed that if given the right tools, she could grow a candy tree for Easter.
As a seasoned mother with two older boys, Sam and Ben Verdone, who are now 13 and 11, she suggested Olivia write a letter to the Easter Bunny and encouraged her to make her dream come true.
Soon, to Olivia’s surprise, the Easter Bunny wrote back and provided magic seeds and dust to grow her very own candy tree to bloom candy on Easter morning.
That Easter, it worked!
“I love candy,” said Olivia, explaining why she thought up the idea of a tree that grows candy. “I believed right from the very first day that it would work.”
The newborn idea became a family Easter tradition, sparking interest in cousins and friends as well. The popularity of the magic tree gave Doxsee an idea and soon she began writing “Sugar and the Candy Tree.”
“It is the first book I tried to write, but I always loved books and reading them to my children; it was my favorite part of the day,” she said. “I always thought it would be fun to write a children’s book.”
And so she did. “Sugar and the Candy Tree” slowly came to life after some trial runs. First she wrote it with intentions to rhyme, but once she dropped that idea, the story just flowed.
To test the newly created story, she decided to read it to her daughter’s kindergarten class a few years ago. But she noticed there were no illustrations to go with the book and quickly asked her two sons to create drawings for the 32-page book. The meant-to-be-temporary illustrations stuck, creating the concept of a kid-created book for kids.
“I was so nervous because kids are so honest, but they just loved it so much,” she said. “They were so supportive and ran up to me, giving hugs and saying it was the best book they ever read.”
Soon, kids were begging for the book and it wasn’t even available, she said.
“It’s so refreshing to see kids actually want to read,” she said. “And with it being illustrated by kids, it gives the message that if they can do it and they’re kids, then maybe I can do it, too. It inspires them.”
The story, she further explained, is about a little girl named Sugar, who dreams of growing a candy tree and everyone is too busy to listen to her idea, so she writes to the Easter Bunny hoping to make her dreams come true.
The book was self-published last year through a California-based company, which printed the book and created and designed the packaging for the tree, seeds and magic dust.
The first year, she purchased only 200 books to see if it was an investment worth making. Then she began reading it in classes in Sayville and Connetquot schools and selling it at TOLA. in Bellport. Kids loved the book and parents were buying it.
“Kids were going crazy over it,” she said.
This year, 2,500 books were printed, accompanied by trees, dust and seeds for $38. A few hundred more books were printed for a $12 individual sale. Either can be purchased at Sweet Gourmet in Sayville and online at www.sugarandthecandytree.com. Next year, Doxsee said she hopes to spread into more school districts and also sell at more local retailers.
After purchasing your set, read the book, plant the seeds, sprinkle the magic dust and wait for Easter morning to harvest the candy. Some wait to plant it the night before (indoors or out) and some plant it ahead of time, but either way, the candy is sure to grow after a visit from the Easter Bunny.
For questions, email Doxsee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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