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kveller q&a

Meet the Jewish Mom Who Wrote a Children’s Book About Cyberbullying Inspired By Donald Trump

julia levy

Julia Levy is a children’s book writer, a mom, and the co-founder of Culture Craver. She recently began a crowdfunding campaign for her book “Donny the Bully,” which is an illustrated children’s book all about a bullying bull. Like the pun, eh? I sure do.

The book was inspired by current politics (namely how Donald Trump has, in many ways, bullied those around him), although Levy says the book isn’t political. Instead, it uses bright and beautiful designs along with rhymes to teach kids how to stop bullying. On the IndieGogo page, Levy explained that it was her way of helping her family:

“I decided to create this in the wake of the 2016 election, and it’s my way of helping my family and other families. I hope that, combined with other amazing engagement and mobilization efforts that are already underway, “Donny the Bully” will help to repair recent damage to discourse and make the world a better place. Or, as the kids in the story would say, “Stop That Mean Bull!”

julia levy

I was thrilled to be able to speak with Julia not only about the book, but her own childhood dreams and favorite TV shows. This is what she had to say:

What surprised you about motherhood?

I was surprised at how quickly being a mother went from caring for my son to having fun with him. Every single day, he does or says something that is unbelievably insightful or funny, and he’s not even three yet!

When did you start writing “Donny the Bully?” How did you juggle it with being a mom?

My husband and I were frustrated with the hateful, bullying language that politicians were using throughout the campaign and we were worried about the inevitable trickle-down effect it would have on our son and other kids. The day after the election (November 9, 2016), we knew we needed to take a stand and do something to help, and landed on “Donny the Bully,” a rhyming picture book about a bullying bull.

This is my first children’s book, but I’ve always dreamed of writing and illustrating children’s books, and this seemed like the moment when everyone had to take a chance and take action, even if it meant trying something new.

I’m used to “juggling” work and motherhood, so I just fit my writing and illustrating in around everything else — usually after my son went to bed or when he and my husband were having boys’ excursions on weekends.

If you could be anyone or anything, just for one day, what would you be?

I’d be Martin Luther King, Jr., because he was one of the most brilliant orators of all time, and I’d love to get inside his head and learn how to put together such moving sentences.

What was your favorite children’s book or young adult novel growing up?

As a child, I loved “The Runaway Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown, both because of the beautiful illustrations and because of the omnipotent mother bunny.

What TV show have you binge watched?

There’s so much good (and diverse!) TV to binge on nowadays: “House of Cards,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

Who are you, in one sentence?

I’m a person who likes wearing many hats — whether a given day means running a startup with my husband or baking a wedding cake or taking my son to see the newest exhibition at the Met.

Biggest pet peeve:

Grammar, word use, and punctuation mistakes drive me crazy.

If you were a Jewish holiday, which one would you be?

I’d be Rosh Hashanah because I’m a firm believer in everyone’s ability to start over; I’m also a big fan of apples and honey.

What’s the best thing about yourself? What’s the worst?

I am very stubborn. I am very stubborn.

Childhood goal:

To be a writer!

Check out more about the book below:

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