Vista teacher’s book ‘Lollipop Fairy’ inspired by sweet family tradition

VISTA — If you’re turning another year older in a day, a certain fairy may be on her way.

Released in March, third-generation Vista resident and school teacher Jana Anderson captures the magic of childhood in her book, “Lollipop Fairy: A Sweet Birthday Tradition.”

The book opens with a young girl hugging a brightly-colored heart, signing “I love you” in American Sign Language with one hand and holding a lollipop in the other. The little girl reminds children that they are loved all year, but a birthday is a day thatis all about you, a day that tells us how much you grew.

Readers can now follow the Lollipop Fairy through 18 pages as she shares her extraordinary gifts with children of all ages.

In a world where magic exists, and love is plentiful, children grow lollipops on their birthdays with seeds delivered the day before.

“The night before your birthday, you get the number of seeds you’re turning, and you plant the seeds by midnight,” Anderson told The Coast News. “Then, you go to bed, and the lollipops grow by the morning.”

In 2021, Anderson gave herself 45 minutes to write a book, and the story just flowed.

It was the second time she picked up the writer’s pen. However, about 13 years ago, a group got together to develop a storyline — a fantastical story differing from hers published last month.

“And it just never flowed, so we let it go,” Anderson said, adding that she decided years later to fulfill her own dream. “I was like, you know, I have always wanted to write this, and it would be really nice for my grandchildren to have it.”

So, she sat down and wrote.

“It just came to me,” Anderson said. “I just put it out there.”

The Road to Lollipop Fairy

While her creative breakthrough was rewarding, Anderson was able to use her education and love for teaching to publish a children’s book.

Anderson attended the University of North Texas, where she earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in special education.

Once a public school teacher in Vista, Anderson is now a literacy specialist and special education teacher at an online charter school that offers a program for children with dyslexia, a learning disability that causes people to have difficulties with language skills, such as reading.

“The most incredible part in all of this,” Anderson said, “I went through the whole process with my students.”

Anderson found her design and editing team on Etsy, but her critics were in the classroom. Through character development, Anderson would bring her students drafts of the story design.

“They’re so amazing because they see things — the little things that I didn’t see,” Anderson said.

Then, she would work their drawing board sessions into a teachable moment. Students with dyslexia may feel discouraged in class, as reading may be a struggle. But Anderson used her book as an example of ways their creative minds can thrive.

“There are so many things out there for you that you’re passionate about,” Anderson told her class. “It was just a beautiful process with my students.”

And when the book was published, a handful of them showed off their copies in class.

Her students throughout the years were also present in the book. As a literacy specialist, Anderson knows time with family and reading aloud is essential for childhood development, and another key to that is representation.

The “Lollipop Fairy: A Sweet Birthday Tradition” draws in readers with the brightest and boldest rainbow hues of candy.

The book’s characters represent many diverse backgrounds and cultures, which may be attractive to children looking for themselves in modern stories.

“A child wants to connect with the characters,” Anderson said, “Especially a lollipop fairy, that should matter to all children. I wanted a book that had represented as many children as possible.”

And so far, she’s already seen it benefit others in the community. While attempting to sell the book to a store, Anderson left with a piece of what it means to have representation in the arts.

“[The seller] went, ‘Oh my god, that looks like me. Do you know how few characters I see in a book or my daughter can say look like me, ‘” Anderson said, still with some shock in her voice her story impacted a middle-aged woman.

“It stuck with me,” she said.

Story of the Lollipop Fairy

“The Lollipop Fairy is on her way to help you celebrate her favorite day,” the book reads.

“Lollipop Fairy: A Sweet Birthday Tradition” is based on a long-time tradition in the Anderson house. Anderson started it for her two sons when they were small children.

Now, ages 15 and 17, Anderson’s sons have yet to turn another year older without a lollipop garden sprouting in their name.

“It’s just been the most beautiful thing because every birthday they would look outside… even now with my 17-year-old… he gets up and I see him poking his head out… and I am like ‘See, you still look, you still look,’” Anderson laughed.

Birthdays are a big deal to Anderson, who says she had a loving but “different childhood.”

“No matter where we were at financially, no matter what was going on, my birthday was always special,” Anderson said.

One birthday she remembers particularly well, she thanks her father. At the time, he was suffering from homelessness, and the two hadn’t been able to see each other for a long time.

“(But) he showed up on my birthday,” Anderson said. “As a child, my birthday was never forgotten. I just knew that I wanted [my kids’] birthdays to be something that they always remembered and they felt special.”

And so she planted her lollipop garden — with seeds and lollipops she found around town.

“It’s so easy for any parent — foster parents — you don’t have to have the book you can grab a bag of lollipops from the dollar store and make [a child’s birthday] magical,” Anderson said.

In the end, “Lollipop Fairy: A Sweet Birthday Tradition” is for her family. To Anderson, publishing a book was an essential piece of herself to leave behind for her children and future grandchildren.

And even when they’re older, she hopes that magic lives on.

“No matter where they’re at, no matter what they’re doing, somehow they’ll see a lollipop,” Anderson said. “And no one will know it’s me, but they’ll know. It’s like something to keep the sweetness forever in a small little way.”

Find “Lollipop Fairy: A Sweet Birthday Tradition” online or at www.lollipopfairy.com.

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