Belle, an 11-year-old Métis girl, and Sarah both want the coveted job of church bell ringer. An embroidery contest is held to award the position, and Sarah cheats. Before Belle can expose her, the two are caught up in the advancing forces of General Middleton and his troops as they surround Batoche in the 1885 Riel Rebellion. The church bell disappeared that day and remains missing to this day.
Jacqueline Guest is a Métis writer whose great-great-grandmother lived at Batoche, and took part in the insurrection with her sons. Belle of Batoche is close to Jacqueline's heart as several of her great-great-uncles died in the rebellion. She drew on family history for parts of the story.