MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY — A Reed Ranch-area woman has written a book to provide young readers with a poignant glimpse of local pioneer life.
The 29-page book is called Belle’s Christmas Surprise. It was written by Carrie Krause over the past 10 months or so and is aimed at students aged six to 12.
It tells the story of local resident Eda Belle Larson, who when she was a little girl, received a piece of food from her father.
Times were hard, and that’s all he could afford to give his children.
Belle ate a bit of it, and went to bed, planning to save the rest for the next day – Christmas Day. But during the night, her sister ate the rest of it. As the title says, there’s a surprise.
Belle told that story to Krause about 25 years ago.
“About 25 years ago, I was in charge of a seniors’ Christmas banquet," Krause said during an interview.
"At the banquet, I asked seniors if they had any memories they could share about their Christmases."
That’s when Belle relayed her story.
“She said how special it was to even get a gift.”
That story always stuck with Krause. She hung on to it for decades.
Krause is a retired teacher who substitute teaches. Over the years, she’s told the story to kids to impress upon them how tough the pioneer days were and how small gestures can mean so much.
That’s one reason she wrote the book.
Another is that according to Krause, there are very few books on Canadian history and she wanted to fill that gap.
"Basically, the only thing that’s available is American history. To find anything on Canadian history for, like, elementary – six to 12 age – there's nothing. It’s very, very difficult. It’s all American history,” Krause said during an interview.
"I thought, ‘this is a way I could maybe contribute to that need that teachers have.”
For about 10 years, Krause thought about setting the story down in a book.
Finally she began the project last year.
“I thought ‘if I’m going to do this, you just have to do it. Like, you just have to start',” she said.
“Once COVID hit, then it really became the opportunity to take ahold of this because I had the time and I was just sitting at home. So I worked on it all during COVID.”
The 29-page book is published by a company in Victoria. It contains illustrations by a Vancouver illustrator. It also has a recipe from the old days as well as several questions to spark discussion in class.
The book is available in Olds at Pandora’s Boox & Tea and The Wild Rose Country Store as well as other retailers.
It can also be obtained via Krause’s website: www.carriejoyschaferkrause.com as well as via Amazon.
Krause already has plans for another book if this one is a success.
“I do have another book in my mind. I don’t have the manuscript totally finished or anything like that,” she said. “I guess I have to see how this book goes.
“I mean, I’d love to write another one because I think I’ve learned a lot – I know I have.”