First-time local author Eileen Grimes took some lessons from the pandemic - and an assist from Kristen Bell - to create The Us Journal

Courtesy of Eileen Grimes


s one of six kids, Eileen Grimes says, "My parents did a wonderful job!" But with so many siblings, Grimes, now a GU education grad who lives in Spokane's South Perry District, sometimes felt a little lost in the shuffle. So when her own two kids came along, "I would make a very specific time to spend with each of them," she says.

Then along came the pandemic. "It was a moment of existential crisis, and legacy building," says Grimes. "What kind of world do I want to leave for my kids?" She says she felt a need to create something real, something to help people connect outside of the digital world, something, "that will allow us to see our kids more wholly and completely."

And so The Us Journal was born. The colorful, interactive book aimed at 5 to 9 year olds features questions and prompts for kids and their adults to reflect on and then share.

As a self-publisher, Grimes worked with The Collective Book Studio to bring her idea into a print-ready format. Then came the task of funding the publishing effort. After a successful Kickstarter, including a fortuitous boost from actress actress Kristen Bell (Frozen, The Good Place) — Grimes reached out to her on Instagram, saying "'If you're looking for someone to support...' And she did! It was incredible!" — the printed book will be available November 9. Donors have already purchased more than 100 copies in advance for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

And there's more to come, says Grimes: "The goal is to make a whole series. The next thing is going to be a teen journal."

The Us Journal ($17) is available online at and also scheduled to be available in local bookstores.