Life-long friends from Chilliwack write and illustrate a light children’s book full of dark materials

Hide and Squeaks launches June 16 at the Royal Hotel

Leslie Dueck and Lucy Bruni had been great friends for decades. But it wasn’t until they’d both met Laura Gilbert that the two realized they could create something lasting – something that would help children see the light in the darkest of situations.

“I saw Laura’s adult book in a store, but we didn’t actually meet until she joined our church,” said Dueck. “I was like, ‘You’re Laura!’ and she was glowing. I couldn’t believe I was actually meeting her.”

Gilbert, who spent a large portion of her childhood growing up in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, turned her story into a novel, A Little Girl Named Squeaks, in 2011 with the help of a friend, Debbie Maddigan.

However, it wasn’t until Gilbert received a hand-drawn card from Bruni after their first meeting did she come up with the idea of presenting her story to children.

“I’ve always been a visually creative person,” said Bruni while sitting in her living room across from Gilbert and Dueck. “I tend to see life as a storybook … but I have no formal artistic training.”

However, after speaking with Gilbert, and reading A Little Girl Named Squeaks, Bruni was able to draw a childish version of Laura in a park surrounded by pigeons. “I had actually drawn Pigeon Park—a place Laura spent a lot of time—without knowing it,” explained Bruni.

The day after receiving the card, Gilbert called Bruni and asked if she’d illustrate her story as a children’s book, who immediately agreed.

“I could draw the pictures” but didn’t feel confident about creating the right words for this book, continued Bruni. “But I knew the right person, so I asked Leslie, and here we are.”

Dueck, who was already inspired by Gilbert’s story of triumph, was happy to help.

“I own Garden Gate Preschool in Promontory,” explained Dueck. “So for the past 20 years I’ve been singing and writing songs.

“And writing this book was a real pleasure. The words would come out in like five minutes,” said Dueck with a smile.

That said, the book still took almost three years to reach completion as the ladies were doing what they could in their spare time. “We did what we could all the while life was still happening,” continued Dueck.

RELATED: Squeaks offers a story of hope

But their years of hard work paid off: Hide and Squeaks hit bookstores this month, and the small children’s chapter book will be launching on Saturday, June 16, from 1- 4 p.m. at the Royal Hotel. Priced at $20, .50 cents from the purchase of every book will be donated to Sardis Doorway, a non-profit organization that assists single and at-risk mothers with young children.

“We hope one day we’ll hear positive affirmation stories about our book,” said Bruni. “But if we can help even one child, we’ve done what we set out to do.”

And while there are all sorts of help books addressed to adults who need to recover from traumatic childhoods, there aren’t many available for children currently living through troublesome family situations. So the inspiration behind this book was “about showing (children) they can turn to people for help,” said Gilbert.

“This book fills a need (that some) children have for acceptance,” said Steve Small from Small Steps Counselling.

“If they read that other children have dysfunctional homes then they do not feel so unusual and feel less like oddities themselves. There is also hope in the conclusion, and children from broken homes need to believe they can create better outcomes for themselves. This book does all that.”

“There is always somebody out there,” Gilbert said passionately. “And (books like this) give children hope that somebody out there cares about them.”

“And even if they don’t have problems, hopefully this book will help teach children compassion and empathy,” said Dueck. “Because better childhoods make for better adults.”

Copies of Hide and Squeaks will be available for purchase at the book’s upcoming launch, as will copies of A Little Girl Named Squeaks. For more information about Hide and Squeaks, or to order copies, please email HideAndSqueaks@gmail.com.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

DFO confirms that investigation of fish habitat destruction in the Fraser River is underway

Conservation and Protection reps ordered Herrling and Carey Island owners to take corrective action

Hope rescue crew remove man pinned in semi-truck on Highway 3

Tuesday night rescue was swift, with the man removed safely from the truck within an hour and a half

Chilliwack Chiefs get Daniel Chenard back in action

The top goalie in last spring’s RBC Cup missed the first half of the season rehabbing after surgery.

UFV students raise money to keep ‘nicest’ person in Abbotsford

Foreign student struggles to pay for schooling after Trump withdrawal from Iran deal

Jordyn Huitema wins Canada Soccer Youth International Player of the Year award.

The Chilliwack FC grad enjoyed a fantastic season representing her country in international play.

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Warning issued as forecast calls for 20-foot waves in Tofino

Dangerous waves, strong currents and upper-shoreline flooding expected for Tofino-Ucluelet area

An 800-pound pig named Theodore needs a forever home, B.C. society says

‘Theodore is not destined to be somebody’s bacon’

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

Torched-SUV victim ‘had the purest heart,’ says sister

Family of teen found in burned SUV in Surrey appeals for justice

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

Most Read