Longtime Storrs, Conn., resident Joan Carter tried to get her stories published, without success, for decades.
Thanks to her granddaughter, Deb Ryan, and daughter, Alice Duston, who live in New Hampshire, that dream finally came true this year, long after Carter’s passing.
Two decades after the longtime Storrs resident’s death, “A Christmas Fable” was published this year, just in time for the holidays.
“It’s a wonderful way to honor her memory,” said Ryan, who lives in Sandown, near Duston, who lives in Hampstead.
Carter told the Christmas story to her great-grandchildren and even some of her great-great-grandchildren before she died at 92 years old.
“She wrote this when she was 89 years old,” Ryan said. “She always wanted to be published.”
Ryan has rejection letters her grandmother received for prior stories in 1944 and 1945, as well as some of her stories.
Ryan said her grandmother, who worked as a librarian, used to help Duston — who was an only child and had dyslexia — learn to read.
Carter’s great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren have received copies of the book with the hope they will someday read it to their children.
The 10 great-grandchildren range in age from 9 years old to 37 years old and the five great-great-grandchildren range in age from 9 months to 5 years old.
The book tells the story of Saint Nicholas reading the story of Christmas to a group of forest animals, who have traveled from all over, on Christmas Eve.
He tells the animals how, many years ago, Joseph arrived in Bethlehem with his wife, Mary, just in time for her to give birth to baby Jesus.
The story continues to be read to the youngsters after Carter’s death.
Ryan said the hope is that those generations will keep her grandmother’s story “alive.”
“We thought if it was a picture book, they would enjoy it more,” she said, referring to the younger family members.
Ryan and Duston worked on the book for more than a year and a half.
The duo struggled with finding an artist, rejecting 14 graphic artists that the publication, Christian Faith Publishing Inc, suggested.
Ryan said they had in mind “old-fashioned” drawings, like the style of Tasha Tudor, rather than graphic art.
Tudor is a children’s book illustrator who lives in Vermont.
“In other children’s books, it would have been fine, but not my grandmother’s story,” Ryan said, referring to graphic art.
She said they had probably been working on the book for eight months at that point.
Finally, the two settled on Derry, resident Susan Monty, who was suggested by someone they knew.
The artwork done by Monty, who actually grew up in Windham, is inspired by animals and nature.
“It was better than I could have imagined because I’m not artistic,” Ryan said.
A paperback copy of the book can be purchased for $15 and hardcover copies can be purchased for $22 on Amazon. Monty’s artwork is available through her website, www.susanmonty.com.