On the CBC Radio Station based out of Calgary, the Host of The HomeStretch, Chris dela Torre, interviews children’s book authors, Granddaughter Kyra Dumoulin and Grandfather Papa Rick Harris.

Papa Rick: Hi, Chris.

Kyra: Thank you for having us.

Chris: Thank you for joining us. And congrats to you both on the book. Rick, I’ll start with you. How did this all start?

Papa Rick: It all started when Kyra was in daycare and, um, we had a condo in Canmore, and she would come down with me, and I taught her how to ski and when we were on one of our adventures going down to ski, Kyra had said to me, Oh, can I bring my friend Georgia?

Papa Rick: The daycare had this stuffy named Georgia, and Georgia was a bunny, and so what would happen was they would, if a child from the daycare went on a vacation, they could take Georgia and her suitcase full of clothes on vacation, and then when the child came back to daycare, they got to tell stories of the adventures they had. Together, wherever they were, and so that’s what ended up happening. Kyra was in the backseat of her child’s proof seat. And then I had to buckle in Georgia beside her, and Georgia came with us. And Georgia was the inspiration behind Caboose.

Chris: Wow. And Kyra, do you remember that?

Kyra: A little bit, yeah. I remember how much I loved stuffies and constantly wanted to bring them on trips and buckle them in. I treated them like they were just a kid like me.

Chris: Yeah. So, what did the two of you want to do with these stories? And, why did you want to, uh, get together and, and, and, and start writing these books?

Papa Rick: What happened was, when, as Kyra got older, of course, she got, uh, then she didn’t have to go to daycare, but she said to me, uh, Papa, you know, like, I, we don’t have Georgia, and the daycare even had a, a brother named George, and there, so there was two of them, but, so there was no more Georgia and George to take on our trips.

Kyra asked if we could come up with our own stuffy. I think I’ll let Kyra tell us more about that.

Kyra: Yeah, so we went into a coffee shop, and we were like, you know what? We have all these memories and pictures. Why don’t we turn them into something?

And so, we sat down at a coffee shop and started looking through all these pictures, and we were like, I think we can do something with these.

We have all these stories. Why don’t we share them?

Chris: Wow. And so, it sounds like the two of you had much potential source material to go through.

Rick, tell us a bit about what happens in this first book. Sure.

Papa Rick: Oh, okay. Thanks, Chris. So, it’s really about the birth of this Bear named Kaboose, and what happened was in this fictional town of Big Head, they hadn’t seen the birth of a bear cub in many, many moons, as we say in the story, and when they found out that Kaboose’s mom was going to have a baby the town just went crazy Uh, crazy, and with excitement. It’s all about the excitement that built around this baby being born, uh, baby cub being born in the Big Head, and that’s how the whole thing started.

Even the mayor got involved. They called everybody together and planned the May long weekend. It was just the whole community getting involved, and it’s all about community also in the book.

Chris: Yeah. And I know some sections towards the back of the book where you’ve incorporated blank pages and places for kids to colour and create their own stories. Why was that an important part to include, Rick?

Papa Rick: It was really important because Kira and I started doing all this, and of course, as Kyra said, we had all this, all these great pictures. You know what, but what happens, Chris, is people have, and you probably have had this happen to you, you have all these. pictures on your phone, and you never see them again. They just never come forward.

But for Kyra and I we went, as Kyra said, to a coffee shop. We brought some of these pictures forward, and they developed into all the stories we wrote down. Then we had to have a character, and the character evolved, and that’s how the book. So that’s what we’re trying to do: encourage, uh, you know, moms and dads, uh, grandparents, children to sit down. And, uh, as you said, Chris, we have these activities, we call them activity pages in, uh, towards the back of the book. First, we ask you to write down your adventure together. Then we have picture-framed notes—spots where you can bring your stories to life in sketches.

And that’s pretty much it. It’s pretty much what Kira and I did, and so we thought, if it got us involved, created these memories, and brought them to life, we want to encourage other people to do the same thing. It’s so much fun.

Chris: Kyra, is there a particular adventure that you’ve had with your grandpa that comes to mind that you’re excited to tell?

Kyra: Yeah, so actually, we have a book in the works right now, and this is our next book coming out, and it takes place at the Canmore Folk Festival, and, um, it’s when my cousin won a gift card to one of the shops, um, downtown, and, um, Yeah, she was called up on stage, and that was a cool experience and just being able to witness it.

Chris: That’s cool.

Papa Rick: Yeah, Chris, we call it the hijinks from the Big Head Folk Music Festival.

Chris: That must be so much fun, coming up with this sort of alternate universe version of Canmore and the Bow Valley and writing these stories. I mean, these are meaningful to both of you in that these are things that the two of you and the rest of Kyra’s Cousins have experienced together.

But what do you hope, uh, folks, what do you hope the general public gets out of this, reading these stories?

Papa Rick: You know you always are looking for a way to bond with your families. And you know, a lot of times grandparents, there’s sometimes a disconnect because of technology and all that. But if you incorporate, and that’s what Kyra and I did, we incorporated and embraced technology.

So, you know, we didn’t shy away from it and incorporated it into the storytelling. So, to have the digital pictures, I tell the story of Kyra being our first digital baby. Cause you know what? When she was born, we bought our first digital camera. There is no film of Kyra.

Kyra’s not on a roll of film. All the pictures of Kyra are digital. And guess what? They all reside. Well, a lot of them reside on my phone, and then Kyra and I would sit down at a coffee shop and go through the pictures, and it was just incredible. So that’s what we’re trying to instill in other people: sit down with your grandchildren or children and look at the pictures.

Don’t let them just sit there and lay dormant; bring them to life.

Kyra: Yeah, I think it’s super important to make memories and live in the moment because a lot of the time, in this age, we can forget to live while we’re constantly looking at our phones.

It’s just super important to make those memories and try something you haven’t done before. For example, Horseback riding in the winter is one of my favourites as well.

Chris: Yeah.

Papa Rick: And we wrote a story about that, uh, you know, the special horseshoes and stuff like that.

Chris: How many stories have you written?

Papa Rick: I think we’re up to about 38.

Chris: Wow, that’s incredible. That’s a lot.

Papa Rick: It is, Chris. We created most audiobooks first. Kyra’s cousin Bailey, our middle granddaughter, loves reading these things. She often is the voice of Kaboose.

Kyra: Yeah, she does a really good job, and she’s the good age to be where you feel like you’re experiencing it through Kaboose.

Chris: Oh, wow. How old is she?

Papa Rick: Oh, she’s 13 now, but we started her when she was a little younger, and she has the perfect voice right now. You know that and our, our, uh, youngest, uh, grandson. Uh, he’s just turned 10, and he’s amazing, too, because you’ve got, you’ve got, you capture that youthful, young.

Kyra: Spark.

Chris: Yeah. Congratulations on this, Rick and Kyra, and thanks for joining us today.

Papa Rick: Oh, our pleasure.

Kyra: For having us.

Papa Rick: Yeah. Thank you, Chris.