GTPulse: ‘The Legend of The Cherry Queens’ Shows Love for Cherry Farmers and Literacy

What do you get when a bunch of “old washed up cherry queens” hit the streets of Leland for the Fourth of July parade? Friendship, smiles, and children’s book ‘The Legend of The Cherry Queens.’

Author Sally Meese and illustrator Mollie Moody are responsible for creating the charming children’s book that is both fanciful, educational, and a joy to read at any age.

“This whole thing didn’t start as a book story it started as a parade float entry. For the last 15 years,” Sally said. “I have been organizing this big group of our Fourth of July friends. We enter the Leland Fourth of July Parade as The Cherry Queens of Leelanau County We have such a blast doing it. Every year we added more queens. The idea is a parody of the National Cherry Queens and all small-town fruit and vegetable queens. We dress up as old washed up cherry queens that still want to be in a parade. Each year we added different themes and different characters for our float. The real National Cherry Queens of Traverse City have always been 100% ok with us!” she laughed.

The idea for the book came when two summers ago, some children at the parade were mesmerized by Sally’s storytelling of how cherries came to be. Sally felt herself take on her Queen Bada Bing Cherry character in a way that she never had before.

“I started talking to them in this voice and answering their questions about where we live and why we have cherry sparkles that we were sprinkling around. The answer was developing into a story being fleshed out. So then I just decided to take it a little step further and see if it could be a story. Those children helped me write a story”

And Mollie Moody illustrated it. ‘The Legend of The Cherry Queens’ tells the story of a cherries lifecycle from blossom to harvest, with the cherries fearful of being smushed into a pie. Sally and Mollie are both passionate about literacy.

“She has been in the parade for 15 years as the Cherry Fairy. When I was looking for an illustrator I wanted something fun and colorful, lo and behold I remembered Mollie is an artist. I said that I wanted to do this for charity, 100% charity. When I told her the mission, she was totally on board. So she donated all of her illustrations to this project. We just really clicked on the mission of the book.”

The proceeds from the book are distributed to different local literacy programs, and Sally is already thinking about a prospective next book that would be a continuation of this one. 

“My mission in life is to write, so I think the Cherry Queens might have to show and do something. Maybe they’ll have to save the parade. It’s bubbling around in there. The parade has so many fun characters that I might like to bring them to life in a book. We have the Queen of Tarts, I’m Bada-Bing, we have the Dried Cherry Queen in the parade, who walks with her walker. All the characters are a pun and we have a lot of fun.”

Although we’ll have to wait to see if the Queens save the day in the next book, the cherries in this book give us a lesson in growing up. In the climax of the story and Sally’s favorite part of the book, the cherries that are fearful of being turned into a pie have clarity and accept their fate happily. They overcome their fears and realize that by being turned into jam or pie, they’ll be bringing joy to so many people. They leave the comfort of their cherry tree homes and dive into a pie crust. Much like us, in confronting their own fears, they are free from them.

‘The Legend of The Cherry Queens’ is already a locally beloved book that shines a special light on the region. The book is available on Amazon, but Sally encourages folks to stop by Bay Books in Suttons Bay, or order it through their local book store. Ordering through the bookstore is still quick and efficient, with many orders able to come in as soon as the next day. Share the story with little ones and loved ones for a lesson in cherries and bravery.

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Categories: GTPulse