Skip to content

ICYMI: ‘We're Happy You're Here’: A Squamish picture book born from friendship and inclusivity

Local Gather bookstore owner Julie Wilkins becomes an author.

Though she owns a bookstore, Squamish's Julie Wilkins hadn't planned on becoming a published author. 

But now she is. 

Wilkins's picture book for children, We’re Happy You’re Here, was released this month by Orca Book Publishers.

The lively and inclusive illustrations are by Brady Sato of Canmore, Alta.

Aimed at children aged three to five, the book started as a personal gift to her best friend, who had recently become a parent with the help of a surrogate. 

"He's a single dad, and a mutual friend and her family—she has a husband and two children—offered to carry for him, and I just thought that was such a cool, lovely thing to do that I wanted to write something for them," said Wilkins.

"A little story that I was going to just give to them and have a friend of mine illustrate. Then my husband suggested that I send it to some publishers, and then Orca Books wanted to make it into a book. And so here we are."

She said her best friend, whose child is now three years old, is "really proud" of the book.

Wilkins describes the story as a "love letter to small humans" and the many people who help families grow.

It is an opportunity for parents to celebrate with their children the many folks who help individuals and couples become families. 

"In my friend’s story somebody studied accounting to help with financial planning, somebody went to school to be able to harvest an egg, and somebody else donated that egg. And then a friend gave their body help it grow," Wilkins said. "In the book, it says 'science, wisdom and love,' which is just so amazing. If you think about all the many humans who had to contribute to any of us becoming families, it's really cool."

It was also important to her that the illustrations show a diversity of individuals and types of families. 

"There's quite a few books existing that outline the science around making a baby or acknowledging the love of building different kinds of families, but not very many that do both. I think that's the special thing of the book," she said.

Wilkins is in the process of delivering a donated copy of the book to every school in Squamish for their libraries and is open to reading to classes for those interested.

Of course, her book is available at Wilkins's newly rebranded store Gather Bookshop (previously known as The Little Bookshop) in downtown Squamish.



push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks