Dula Yavne is an artist based in Tel Aviv, whose work has been exhibited around the world: in Israel, New York and London. She has illustrated for leading magazines and newspapers, was a Brown Foundation resident artist at the Dora Maar house in France, and has published a graphic novel. Coming from this background, she brings a new sensibility to children’s book illustration.
Douglas Anthony Cooper is a Canadian novelist based in Rome. He was a contributing editor at New York Magazine, and his journalism has won America’s most prestigious travel writing award, as well as a National Magazine Award in Canada. His first YA novel was on the Financial Times Bestseller List, and was deemed a "Book of the Year" by Lovereading 4 Kids. And he has always wanted to write a Seuss-like fable for children.
Douglas happened upon Dula’s artwork online, fell in love with it, and decided they had to collaborate on a project. Dula immediately agreed. So, that’s how it all began. Dula and Douglas have now worked together for almost five years.
Oh, and they’ve never actually met in person.
Since they are both huge dog lovers, they decided that their first project would be a parable about the prejudice against bully breeds. Hence, our hero Galunker: a rescued fighting dog who might be a pit bull (he sure looks like one) and is in mortal danger for that reason. While he is of course lovable and good -- even if he looks a bit worse for wear -- he may end up in the hands of very nasty people.
Galunker is lucky to encounter one person who is not blinded by prejudice: our quirky, brave heroine, Blinky -- a girl with an eye patch and a motormouth.
Douglas is not new to this issue: as a member of the No Kill movement, he has spent years advocating for dogs, and especially pit bulls. A number of his articles in the Huffington Post have gone viral -- they have been read by hundreds of thousands of people across North America -- and his series about shelter killing was shortlisted for a Canadian Online Publishing Award. This work has been instrumental in the fight against breed prejudice, most recently in the battle that finally put an end to Breed Specific Legislation in Montreal.
Because a kids’ book starring a pit bull is (unfortunately) controversial, Dula and Douglas decided to bypass the mainstream publishing world, and to fund the Galunker project through Kickstarter. It became an unexpected sensation: one of the most successful kids’ publishing projects in Kickstarter history.
The book took a long time to complete, as it was a complicated task. The story of course has an agenda, but the book is first and foremost an artistic endeavor: Dula and Douglas are both perfectionists, with a long history in their respective fields, and if they were going to work together on a work of art, they had to get it right.
Eventually -- if readers across the continent are any indication -- they did.
Since the initial Kickstarter edition, they have been deluged with requests for the book, which is finally available in a new and shiny edition, along with Galunker-themed items: t-shirts and tote bags.