ROCKWOOD – Vanessa Ireson’s picture books give children a chance to see their hometown in a different light.
Her brightly illustrated stories are set in two familiar scenes for most locals: the conservation area and the annual Farmers’ Santa Claus Parade of Lights.
The books were both released in 2022 and are aimed at children between four and eight years old.
Let’s Go, Goose-Goose
Ireson’s debut book Let’s Go, Goose-Goose was inspired by a real goose living in the Rockwood Conservation area – a place Ireson visits on a near-daily basis.
It was Ireson’s then-five-year-old son Stephen and his dad David who first noticed “Goose-Goose,” an unusually friendly and curious goose that frequents the conservation area.
The goose frequently approaches the pair as though to say “hello,” Ireson recalled during an interview with the Advertiser at the conservation area.
During the pandemic Stephen and David visited Goose-Goose regularly, and the bird became “part of our family lore,” Ireson said.
This lore inspired Ireson to write a heartwarming tale about how the goose over-comes his fear of migrating south.
Goose-Goose learns that trying new things can be fun – a message Ireson hopes helps children face changes in their own lives, such as starting at a new school, moving, or experiencing parental divorce.
The book also carries messages about the value of teamwork, and it ends with a list of facts about geese, including how they work together as a team.
Sir Steve and the Christmas Dragon
When Ireson moved to Rockwood 13 years ago, she was delighted to discover the Farmers’ Parade of Lights.
Since then, she said her family has never missed the parade – even when festival-goers had to stay in their cars during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ireson’s second book began as a poem about the parade, but “quickly morphed into a dragon story,” she said.
The tale, told with Christmas carols woven throughout, begins with Rockwood villagers out enjoying the parade.
Attendees admire Santa and Mrs. Claus as they appear on the combine harvester, but are then shocked to see a dragon fly through the sky.
The villagers are scared and run to the safety of their homes, until “Sir Steve,” inspired by Ireson’s son, decides to confront the dragon.
Sir Steve discovers the dragon doesn’t want to scare anyone, he just wants to enjoy the Christmas festivities.
Ireson hopes this book helps kids be more open to meeting new people, and learn to challenge their initial reactions by taking the time to get to know others.
Sir Steve and the Christmas Dragon is dedicated to the Rockwood Farmers’ Santa Clause Parade of Lights, and Ireson expresses deep appreciation to the farmers for “creating such a magical event every year that kids get so excited about.”
The parade brings the community together, she added.
This year, the parade takes place on Dec. 14 at 7pm.
Ireson said the books are tributes to how important the conservation area and parade are to the Rockwood community.
Ireson has a possible third book in the works – a sequel to Let’s Go Goose-Goose called Hola, Goose-Goose.
In this story Goose-Goose gets lost in Mexico, and learns to try new foods, embrace a new culture and meet friends in a new language.
Ireson’s books are available at the Rural Roots Artisan Shop and the Evergreen Tree Farm.