BRIDGEVILLE, Del. — Where does all that milk go?
That’s the premise of the 2015 children’s book “From Cow to Cone,” written by Stacie Desautels.
The story takes place on the real-life Vanderwende Dairy Farm near Bridgeville as it tries to solve the mystery of what happens to all that milk every day.
The book has been an opportunity to educate the public about farming and to increase exposure for the direct-marketing farm.
The 225 cows on the third-generation farm wonder aloud what happens to their milk when little bird Wendell offers to “fly and spy” in order to find the elusive answer.
All he wants in return is the friendship of Queenie the Cow. The result is a charming and whimsical children’s book, illustrated and written by Desautels, with a story that features members of the farming family. The book can be bought at the farm, which is known for its local ice cream.
William and Ellen Vanderwende purchased the farm in 1954, starting with six cows and $35. The farm has since grown to about 4,000 acres and 225 registered Holstein cows with three locations and a truck selling ice cream.
In the story, Wendell follows the milk trucks to the pasteurization plant, where he discovers butter, cheese, yogurt and best of all — ice cream. He sneaks a taste and says “Brr, that is cold. But, oh goodness! It is so yummy!”
“I fell in love with the Vanderwende Family Farm the first time I visited. It was so charming, just like a fairy tale. I knew immediately that I wanted it to be my next book,” Desautels says on the Amazon webpage about her book.
“As the manuscript came to life, I created each character with traits and symbolic references that would be fun for the reader: Wendell’s name came from the Vanderwende family name. Queenie’s personality as the bossy Holstein reflects her role as the ‘queen bee’ of the herd. Lovey is the sweet Jersey cow with a heart on her forehead. Daisy, the ditzy Holstein, is fashioned after my dog that looks like a cow. Shamrock, the red Holstein, reflects Irish traits with a shamrock on her chest. While every cow is different, I used these symbols to identify each one because farmer Jimmy told me that they all have unique personalities,” she said.
“It was a lot of fun to do. It was just so adorable. I just fell in love with (the farm),” she said. “It’s a keepsake for the family, more than anything.”
The Vanderwendes enjoyed seeing their farm come to life on the page.
“I like that they did use our names and drew the characters to look like us. That’s not something you see all the time,” said Taylor Vanderwende.
Vanderwende added that the book helps to educate people about dairy farming and where their food comes from.
“They don’t see farms,” she said. “They honestly don’t know.”
Desautels is the artist of Daisy DeZigns Art Studio in Salisbury, Maryland. She has illustrated four other children’s books: “Blue Bear Finds a Rainbow” and “Pink Bear’s Journey” by McKenzie Betts; “Dayspring: Fearfully & Wonderfully Made” by Indya Rennie; and “The Christmas Hippo” by Lisa Williams.
Desautels has also painted murals and works as the event planner for the Wicomico Civic Center.