In "I Want a Birthday Party," I introduced readers to Julie, a charming porcupine sharing the same birthday as Annie. Throughout the writing process, I envisioned Julie as a sweet porcupine with pigtails and a rosy complexion. Despite Julie being shy and quiet, in stark contrast to Annie, I made sure to establish a friendship between them.
With only 15 months separating them, I always imagined the real Annie and Julie as being exceptionally close, almost akin to twins rather than just sisters. Tragically, Julie passed away before a bond could have been formed between them. However, this heartbreaking reality didn't keep me from making Julie as an intricate part of Annie's story
When it came time to discuss illustrations of Julie, I hesitated, unsure if I was ready to share Julie. There were moments when I contemplated changing her name, but finally decided to entrust Alexandra, my illustrator, with bringing Julie to life. My only instruction for was Julie had to be the vision of sweetness.
Upon receiving the first illustration, any doubts about sharing Julie were gone. I didn't need to change the character's name because I could instantly envision Julie sitting beside Annie on the bus. It was almost if the real Annie and Julie were there, sharing laughter on their journey home.
I later discovered that Alexandra has a daughter, named Julie, and she was excited about making a porcupine Julie. Once again, the connection between what I envisioned in my head and her artistic rendition was nearly flawless. While my Julie is no longer with us, I am glad that Alexandra and I were able to immortalize her forever as a lovable, sweet porcupine.