PROFILE 2024: Stories with a message

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Ironton children’s author is now up to her eighth book

Just outside of Ironton, a small cottage is a standout on Township Road 277, with its colorful décor reflecting the work of its creator and it serving as a site for happy memories for the children hosted there.

Vicki Roach created Tea Party Treats & Sweets in 2011, a venue for story hours, birthday parties and events for girls (with an adjacent Cowboy Cabin for boys)

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“I’ve always loved tea parties and, growing up, we always had a cave on the back of our hill,” she said. “My mom used to give me couple of her chipped plates and cups and I’d take them back there and have tea parties. When I had daughters, I continued doing thing for her birthdays.”

Roach, who was working in a doctor’s office at the time, said she conceived of the cottage as a perfect spot for children’s parties and contacted Amish workers in the region, who constructed it.

She said, once it was built, she decorated it, and hired high school and college students to appear as Disney princesses and characters. The princesses are also a popular draw when they walk in costume at the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade, where children flock to them for photos.

“It took off really quick and got bigger than me,” she said. “It actually took care of me for 10 years. You can’t beat that. It paid our bills and took care of us.”

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Roach said she had to stop hosting parties, but she kept the cottage going for weekly story hours in the spring, summer and fall, for which children can be signed up on Facebook.

“In order to come, all you have to do is bring a donation of whatever we’re taking up – a can of food, hygiene items for local shelters, panties for little girls, just different things needed in our community,” she said.

And it is those story hours, as well as the regular videos from the cottage, where Roach shares her work as a published writer with several titles.

Describing herself as “a wife, mother, grandmother, Christian, children’s Christian author and small business owner,” Roach, a member of Sharon Baptist Church in Ironton, is releasing her eighth book this year.

Ironton author Vicki Roach, along with illustrator Ricardo Ramirez Gallo, at a book release party. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

The stories are inspired by members of her own family, with elements of fantasy mixed in, and all share a positive message.

Her first book, “Fairies Love Oreos,” done with illustrator Ricardo Ramirez Gallo, was released in 2019 from Hitchcock publishing.

Roach recalls the story behind the tale.

She was at the grocery store with her daughter, Breana, with a limited amount of money on hand to buy dinner for the family.

“I had all the kids with me,” she recalled, noting that her daughter had decided to, without her knowing, sneak and open a package of Oreos and began eating them.

Roach said she remembers finding Breana with the cookies all over her face and she began to cry from the predicament.

That’s when a cashier stepped in and offered to, not just pay for the cookies, but also the family’s groceries.

“There are angels all around us,” Roach said. “She was my angel that day.”

She quotes the final line of the book, which sums up its message: “The lady at register didn’t know that day, but she showed God’s love in perfect way.”

Gallo has worked with Roach on all of her books.

“I met him here,” she said, stating he had arranged a dinner for his wife at her property.  “He wanted something special for her. I told him I was looking for an illustrator He’s amazing. He can do anything. All the characters – they’re cartoon characters, but they look like my children and grandchildren.”

Roach’s second book was “Bridget the Queen Bumblebee.”

She said it was about when Bridget, 6, made necklaces and gave them to children at school. The girl even gave the gifts to two girls who Roach said had not been kind to her.

“I asked, ‘Why did you give them one, as mean as they are?’”

She said the girl told her, “Remember what they said in church about being good to everyone, especially people mean to us?”

“Sometimes God teaches us things through our children,” Roach said of the lesson.

Princesses from Vicki Roach’s Tea Party Treats & Sweets greet children in the 2023 Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade. (Larry Rees | For The Ironton Tribune)

Another book, Charles the Anxious Panda,” is based on her grandson Braxton.

“When he was little, he was anxious about everything,” Roach said. “And the book explains that God tells you            what to do.”

Her sons, Bruce and Brice, figure into another title, “Gingerbread Smash,” based on the time they destroyed one of the large gingerbread houses Roach had made and was selling during the holidays.

While “Harleigh the Ballerina” is based on another granddaughter and her love of both dressing up and playing in          the mud.

“It’s about being the way you are you,” Roach said. “You are special and God loves you just way you are.”

Roach said she wrote another title, “I am not a Worm. I am Easton a Child of the King,” about her grandson, Easton, and the grief he was going through after the death of his grandmother.

“She was a good friend of ours, too,” Roach said. “I wanted to write a Christian book to teach about death. He loved his Nana so much.” 

The passing of Roach’s mother was the motivation behind “Mama Fox,” which she said she wrote while her mother was in hospice and          the hospital.

“She was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Roach said. “During her stay, I wrote that book about her. It’s about how she raised us in church. I had seven brothers and sisters. We never knew we were poor. They always provided for us.”

Roach, at the time of the interview, was awaiting the arrival of her latest book, “Harper the Mermaid,” which was in final editing and to be released in February.

“She spreads God’s love all over the land and sea,” she says of the tile, based on a granddaughter. “It teaches everyone that God loves you, regardless of sex, color, gender or anything.”

Roach said attendance has been strong at her story hours and she often has to book a second session each week to get all of the children in.

“I pick out a book and read it,” she said. “A princess comes and she serves cupcakes and we have tea, story time and play games.”

She said she hopes to start similar events for boys up this year in the Cowboy Cabin.

Roach said “everything fell into place,” as she went about becoming an author, from the chance meeting with her illustrator, to her husband meeting and introducing her to her Columbus-based publisher.

“I had thought about it since I was little, and had stories jotted down,” she said. “It really took off like wildfire. It was no longer my plan, but God’s plan.”

While the stories contain fantastical elements, such as fairies and mermaids, Roach said the core of each tale comes from real life, something she explains to children.

“When I read to kids, I ask them, ‘What do you think is true and not true?’” she said. “I tell them it’s a true story, based off my daughter. And they understand that.”

As for future titles, she has a few more planned at the moment.

One will be based on her grandson, Gus, who is 4. 

“His is going to be ‘Gus the Great Superhero,’” she said.

Following that will be one based on her three-year-old granddaughter, Everly, who will be a princess at a tea party.

And she has one grandchild left, Elijah, though at only one year old, his story has yet to come to her.

“I’m not sure about him yet,” she said, but is confident he will similarly inspire her.

With a large extended family, Roach knows she has no shortage of fuel for future works.

“I’m definitely going to keep writing, until I run out wind to do it anymore,” she said.

Roach’s books can be found at and online through Walmart, Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Sign ups for the story hours can be done on Facebook. σ